The Best Compost Bin for Balconies, Patios & Small Spaces

Composting turns organic waste such as kitchen scraps and yard waste into nutrient-dense material for your garden or houseplants. The proper composting bins can make it possible for you to transform your scraps into compost, even if you live in an apartment.

Can You Have a Compost Bin on a Balcony?

If you live in an apartment and your only outdoor space is on a balcony, you can still turn compost at home. You’ll want to choose your balcony compost bin carefully based on your particular apartment needs, but there are plenty of options from which to choose.

If you live in a relatively temperate area, you can keep a worm composter on your balcony. Warmer regions are too hot for worm bins, but the extra heat can make traditional aerobic composting methods even faster if you choose the right composting bin.

Tumbling composters are also a good choice for balconies. These compost bins are fully contained and allow you to turn your compost with minimal mess.


How Do You Compost on a Small Balcony?

Small balcony compost systems have to have a relatively small footprint. This means they must take up a small amount of floor space on your balcony. A composting tumbler is often the best choice because you can tuck it away in the corner of your balcony without giving up too much space.

Tumblers also make it possible for you to turn your compost, even if you don’t have a lot of room to swing a pitchfork. Plus, they keep your compost off the ground, which will keep your downstairs neighbors and your landlord happy.


How Do I Compost If I Live in an Apartment?

If you live in an apartment with no outdoor access, your composter options are more limited. It’s still possible to produce quality compost at home, even if you don’t have a balcony or other outdoor space.

Bokashi composting is a fully contained composting method that doesn’t require any outdoor access at all. Vermicomposting, or worm composting, can also be done indoors, though it takes up a little bit more space.

Recommended readingComposting in an Apartment Balcony


Can I Compost on My Porch?

If you have a house with a porch, you have even more composting options available to you. You can use all the same composting bins available to apartment dwellers, such as tumblers and vermicomposters. Just make sure your composting system has a closed bottom to avoid getting your porch or patio dirty.


How To Choose the Best Compost Bin?

Choosing the perfect compost bin for your small space begins with considering the space you have. If you live in an apartment with no outdoor space at all, traditional aerobic composting isn’t going to be a good fit for you, as it doesn’t work well indoors. You’ll want to explore vermicomposting, also called worm composting, or Bokashi composting, both of which you can do indoors.

If your house or apartment has a balcony or patio, you have a wider range of options available to you. Depending on the size of your balcony or patio, you could use a composting tumbler for aerobic composting. You can also use a vermicomposter outdoors, as long as it doesn’t get too hot.

Even a small yard can support a ground contact composting system. These bins take advantage of the available microbes outdoors by leaving your compost open to the ground below. If you live in a densely populated area, get a composter with a lid to keep out the urban wildlife.


5 Best Balcony Compost Bins Reviewed

We’ve reviewed five small space compost bins to help you choose the best one for your situation.

#1. SCD Probiotics All Seasons Indoor Composter

This indoor composter jump-starts the composting process using a probiotic Bokashi culture. This compost starter ferments your food scraps in an air-tight bucket that you can store on your balcony or under your kitchen sink.

The food scraps produce a compost tea that you can drain off using the built-in spigot during the Bokashi composting process. Dilute one tablespoon of this liquid per gallon of water and use it directly on your plants as a nutrient enhancer.

This method of composting produces a fermented waste mixture that isn’t quite compost. You can mix it with gardening soil in your pots indoors or add it to an outdoor compost pile. Either way, you have to let it sit for two weeks before planting. Still, this method is much faster than traditional composting methods, taking as little as two weeks.

Pro

The Bokashi method of composting allows you to process a broader range of food scraps. Unlike traditional composting methods, you can compost dairy, meat, and fats in a Bokashi composter.

Con

The Bokashi compost isn’t quite ready for your plants. You have to bury the finished compost or let it sit mixed with soil for two weeks.

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#2. Worm Factory 360 Worm Composting Bin

This multi-level vermicomposter helps you produce a continuous supply of usable garden compost and worm tea. It comes with four stacking trays to expand the capacity of the composter. 

To get started, add the provided bedding, a little bit of soil from outside, and a handful of red wriggler worms to the first tray. Keep adding kitchen waste to the tray until it gets full, then add the next tray on top and add scraps to that one.

This system features a spout at the bottom of the stand. All the worm tea produced through the process drains down into this bottom tray. You can quickly drain off as much as you want to nourish your garden before the compost finishes.

The worms will naturally migrate from the bottom tray upward as they run out of nutrients in the finished compost. Remove the bottom tray to retrieve the finished compost, and rotate trays as needed. 

Pro

This method can produce a lot of compost much more quickly than traditional composting methods. One pound of worms can process up to half a pound of food scraps per day.  

Con

Some users have reported that their worms are prone to escaping through the bottom of the bins. You may have to check on them every day to move them back to safety.

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#3. Miracle-Gro Small Composter

This single chamber compost tumbler holds up to 18.5 gallons of scraps and compost. It’s compact and portable, making it perfect for use in apartments with balconies or houses with small patios. 

The Miracle-Gro composter uses the traditional thermogenic (heat-producing) compost method. Simply add your essential compost ingredients (“browns,” “greens,” and water) and a little bit of compost starter if desired.

The bin rotates around a central rod, and internal mixing blades add even more oxygen to your compost. Add scraps through the latching lid and rotate daily. Open the lid and rotate the bin to dump out finished compost when it’s ready for use in your garden.

If your family produces a lot of kitchen or yard waste, this model may be a little too small to process it all. The next larger model, 27.7 gallons, still has a small enough footprint for all but the tightest of outdoor spaces.

Pro

The rotating design and air holes allow more oxygen to permeate the compost than other traditional bins. This means you’ll have finished compost faster, in as little as four to six weeks.

Con

The aeration holes can allow dirt and moisture to escape if your bin gets full or overly wet. You’ll want to put a tarp or tray under this bin, especially if you live above your neighbors.

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#4. GEOBIN Expandable Compost Bin

The GEOBIN is an open-sided outdoor compost container that expands to fit your capacity needs. It’s made from a curved sheet of plastic with ventilation holes and locking “keys” to hold it together. The aeration holes allow more oxygen to penetrate the pile, improving the composting process.

This is an excellent option for composters with small yards. It’s not fully contained, so it’s not a good fit for balconies or patios. Its ease of assembly, adjustment, and storage make it an excellent fit for renters who don’t want a permanent outdoor bin.

Aside from its unique assembly method, this compost bin is like traditional composting in all other respects. You’ll want to turn your compost pile the old-fashioned way regularly to produce compost faster. If you can stake the sides of the bin to the ground, your compost will be easier to turn.

Pro

This is one of the least expensive composting systems available, and it expands up to four feet in diameter to accommodate more compost. 

Con

The open bottom makes this a poor choice for apartment dwellers and patios. Unless you have unpaved ground to put it on, you’re better off going with a compost tumbler.

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#5. Redmon 65 Gallon Compost Bin

This ground-contact compost bin requires no compost starter. It naturally draws in bacteria, fungi, and worms from the ground beneath it. It features a hatch at the bottom that makes it easy to remove finished compost from the bin for use in the garden.

The black plastic design has aeration holes to allow extra oxygen into the container, producing finished compost faster. Unlike fully open compost containers, the Redmon bin features a lid to keep out unwanted animals like raccoons.

This model is also somewhat more secure than the GEOBIN, because it features stakes to secure it to the ground. It’s sturdy and secure but still portable enough for renters who don’t want a permanent installation.

The open bottom makes this a poor choice for apartment dwellers and those without yards. If you don’t have open ground to stake this to, you’re going to have a mess on your hands. You’re better off going with a fully enclosed model if you only have a patio or balcony.

Pro

This is an attractive way to store your compost pile in a small backyard. Plus, its compact size retains more heat than open containers, producing finished compost faster.

Con

The shape of this bin makes it difficult to turn the compost. You have to take it out, either through the hatch or by lifting the bin, and put it back in the top to turn it.

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Conclusion

Small spaces can make composting more challenging but not impossible, you can always find right place for your compost bin.

And as apartment dweller, you have plenty of options available to help you recycle your food waste. Whether you have a small yard, patio, or balcony, there’s a composter that suits your needs.

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The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Tiffany Lei

Tiffany Lei

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