Composting is an excellent way to reduce your waste and create rich fertilizer for your garden. The best part is that composting is not even that hard to do. All you need is a little space, time, and a few know-how answers for troubleshooting should something come up. But you don’t want just a pile of stuff sitting in your backyard.
One of the most cost-effective ways to start a good compost pile is to construct a wood pallet compost bin.
Are Pallets Safe For Making a Compost Bin?
For the most part, yes, a diy compost bin from wooden pallets is safe as long as you take in a couple of factors.
Pallets are made from wood, and sometimes that wood is treated with chemicals so that bugs don’t get into them. These chemicals aren’t suitable for your plants or yourself, and so you’ll want to avoid them.
This is pretty easy to do as most pallets contain a stamp on them saying where they’re from, how they were treated, the inspector who cleared the pallet for use, and additional information.
The chemicals used, Sulfuryl Fluoride and Methyl Bromide, are highly toxic and shouldn’t be used in DIY pallet projects. You should only use heat-treated or kiln-dried pallets for any projects you have in your garden.
How Long Do Pallet Composts Last?
Pallet composts generally last four to six years as long as they don’t have a bottom. If you put a base on your pallet compost bins, you’ll need to replace it every year or two.
Should a Compost Bin Be in the Sun or Shade?
Either sun or shade can work just fine. However, having your wooden pallet compost bin in the sun will speed up the composting process. This is because both heat and moisture are required to break down the materials you add to the compost heap for finished compost.
How to DIY Pallet Compost Bin
DIYing a wooden compost bin isn’t that difficult and doesn’t take much time. But suppose you’re not one for doing it yourself. In that case, there are several pallet compost kit options available that come with corner posts for an even easier setup.
One is the actual pallet compost, and the other is an add-on kit should you need more room.
Both of the options I recommend have untreated cedar, so you’re not putting anything nasty in your compost. They both look pretty, too.
If you like to DIY, here is a short video summarizing the essential tips.
Materials You’ll Need For Your Compost Bin
When it comes to DIYing your compost bin, all you need are pallets and straw bales wire or zip ties, but there are a few optional items you might want.
- Four pallets that are the same size
- Zip ties or wire for connecting the pallets
- Spade or rake
- Chicken wire or hardware cloth
- Nail gun
- Staple gun
- Carpet or tarp
- Wooden stakes
- Wood stain
1. Prepare Your Location
The perfect location for your compost bin should be on level ground and out of the way of any other gardening work that might go on. Use a spade or rake to ensure the ground is level and pull up any large rocks that might be there.
You don’t want to put your compost bin too close to any trees where roots can grow and take advantage of your compost.
2. Prepare Your Materials
You should inspect your pallets for loose planks and protruding nails. Protruding nails must be either hammered back into place or removed and new nails put in to keep the planks stable.
This will help ensure there are no accidental injuries while you’re putting your compost bin together.
Afterward, you should rinse your pallets so that any spills on them get washed away. For troublesome residue, a good scrubbing should do the trick.
3. Create Your First Wall
Decide where you’d like the back wall, stand your first pallet up, and get it into position.
Depending on how high or wide you’d like your compost bin will determine if you’ll be standing your pallets up on their ends or their sides.
4. Creating a Horseshoe Shape
Get your second pallet into position and tie it together with the first one using zip ties or a nail gun or electric drill if you want to make sure it’s secure. Secure both the top and the bottom of both wall pallets so they can’t easily come off.
If you’re using zip ties, you might need to put two together, so it’s long enough. After you’ve secured your walls in place with either zip ties or wire, make sure your corners are at right angles, and they can stand up by themselves.
This makes sure it can withstand whatever Mother Nature throws at it without too much trouble. That is unless she decides to throw it completely out of your yard, which has happened to me.
If you’re using nails or screws, make sure that it’s level and the walls of your compost bin a perfectly perpendicular before you permanently attach them because it is a pain to remove and redo.
5. Putting on the Door
There are a couple of different ways to put on the door.
The easiest is to zip tie or wire one side of the fourth pallet onto the rest of your masterpiece. Then add zip ties underneath the first slat on the opposite wall and then have a nail or a piece of wood coming out of the door for you to hook it around, keeping the door shut.
The other way is to add actual hinges and a latch for a nicer look. This takes hinges, screws, and an electric drill but is pretty quick and easy.
Putting on a door is optional as there are plenty of three-sided compost bins. However, it doesn’t look as nice. It’s real easy for animals to get into your heap, especially if you’re putting kitchen scraps in your compost.
6. Keeping Compost in and Critters Out
Speaking of critters, if you want to make sure your compost is safe from rats, squirrels, or even raccoons, I suggest chicken wire or hardware cloth.
Line the inside of your pallet before you start composting to keep them from getting in. You might even want to cover the ground so rats can’t dig tunnels to the compost bin. This also has the benefit of keeping your lawn clippings and smaller yard waste in the bin.
Also, you might want to cover the top of your compost bin, especially at night. Again, a simple tarp or even some carpet can help with that.
7.Optional: Measures for Stability
If you want to make sure your pallet compost bin is safe when you put together your pallet, and your pallets are on their end, you can hammer wooden posts in between the two sides of the pallet.
This is great if you’re in a place with high winds or the regular threat of Mother Nature throwing your compost bin into the next county. Not saying it won’t still happen, but she’ll have to try a lot harder.
If you’ve placed your pallets on their sides, you can hammer stakes into the ground at the corners before screwing the two together. It’s a good way to ensure your compost bin isn’t going anywhere.
8. Optional: Making It Look Pretty
If you want your bin to be pretty, there are plenty of options you can do to make it look less like a place for a compost pile.
One of the ways you can do that is by staining the outside. Only stain the outside as you don’t want any of those chemicals getting into your compost.
You can also add flower planters.
If your pallets are facing up, then you can get a length of burlap that hangs about a foot on either side of your compost bin and cut small holes for where the braces are. Then feed the burlap into the holes before stapling it to both sides of the pallet. Trim the excess, add soil and flowers, and tada! You have a pretty pallet compost bin.
If your pallet is sideways, then you can find flower planters to hand off of it or screw into the side to add a touch of pretty to your compost bin.
Easiest Way to Keep Compost
Out of all the ways I’ve tried to compost over the years, pallet composting is by far the easiest. It’s not only versatile, but it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to turn garden waste, food scraps, organic material, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps into a nutritious feed for my plants.