How to Build a Compost Bin From Recycled Pallets
In this Backyard Life video, landscape designer and Done-In-A-Weekend Projects host Doug Scott is joined by a very special guest–Joe Lamp’l. Joe’s the host of the Emmy Award-winning show Growing a Greener World, as well as a backyard composting guru! Together, they’ll show you how to build a compost bin (a 3-bin system, to be exact) out of recycled pallets. This DIY project is easy, inexpensive—and as good for the environment as it is for your garden!
Joe’s been composting personally for many years, and has taught 1,000s of people how to do the same through his TV show, instructional blog posts and Joe Gardener podcasts. So he’s the perfect person to show us how to build a backyard composting bin system.
Backyard Composting Basics: ‘The 3 Rs of Composting’
Composting is simply the natural process by which food and other organic materials decompose, although in a controlled environment. By providing the perfect place for bacteria, fungi, and other decomposing organisms to live, you can speed up the decomposition process to create what gardeners call “black gold.” (That’s green-thumb slang for nutrient-rich compost!)
So, what about the “Three Rs?” Well, they stand for: Reduce, reuse and recycle. This 3-R mantra has actually been used in the waste management industry for many years, and composting is an instance where all three Rs come together into one concept.
- Reduce: Composting food scraps and yard waste in your backyard reduces the amount of garbage you throw out—which in turn reduces the amount of space needed in our landfills, the resources required to process garbage, and the associated costs—both financially and environmentally.
- Reuse: Composting reuses food scraps and other compostable materials by turning them into nutrient-rich compost. That compost can be used in your garden to improve the health of your plants.
- Recycle: Recycling doesn’t have to mean using something for the same purpose it was initially made to do. For example, paper products don’t have to be recycled back into paper. They can also be a valuable addition to your backyard composting process, too. Namely, they serve as a source of carbon, aiding water retention and increasing soil volume in the process.
3-Bin Compost System Build
There are a couple of things to note about the compost bin system that Joe and Doug build on this DIAW video:
- Pallets: Keeping with the 3R theme, these compost bins are made from pallets. These are things you can often find free, or at a very low cost.
- 3-Bin: Although you may find plans for compost systems with one or two bins, ours has three bins. As Joe explains, this allows you to have a bin for each of the three phases of the composting process:
- New material can be added in bin 1.
- Composting is well underway in bin 2. You don’t want to add anything to the compost, but it’s also not ready to be used.
- Compost in bin 3’s ready for the garden!
If you have the room, cycling through the three portions of the compost bin with pallets makes your efforts a great deal easier.
For step-by-step plans for this 3-bin backyard composting system, click here. With these plans in-hand, you’ll be composting in no time. Good luck!