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7 Best Compost Bins for Nutrient-Rich Compost (2021 Review)

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The best compost bin should provide good ventilation, yet heat quickly to encourage the process of biodegrading. It should be dark in colour, sturdy against wind and ideally have a lockable door at the top, and an accessible door at the bottom. I’ve researched and tested the best compost bins from cheap and cheerful structures to high-end composters. Here’s what I’ve found throughout my composting journey…

What is the Best Compost Bin For You?

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Comparing The Best Compost Bins

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  • Best For
  • Capacity
  • Shape
  • Assembly
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In-Depth Reviews of Our Recommended Compost Bins

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4smile Garden Compost Bin4smile Garden Compost Bin

Best budget option

Design
Durability
Ventilation
Value for Money
Overall
4.55
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4smile Garden Compost Bin Review

Specifications

  • Capacity: 300l
  • Shape: Square
  • Assembly: Required

If you’ve previously found yourself frustrated by the awkward shape of round compost bins – perhaps because of needing an extra hand to remove the lid, or because they don’t sit neatly in the corner of the garden – a square design could be exactly what you’re looking for.

This 4smile Garden Composter slots well into available space, tessellating neatly with other square units whilst making full use of the offered surface area.

With a hinged lid that stays up without support, 4smile have created a composter that’s easy to open with one hand, facilitating the process of dumping waste material inside.

Plus, the opening is well sized at a reasonable height, putting an end to accidents where grass cuttings and food waste miss the bin and end up on the floor.

Even the bin’s dark colour has functional properties; it helps the contents warm up, improving the speed at which the waste turns into useable compost.

Intentionally, this bin has no base. If positioned on bare earth, worms and other beneficial invertebrates will be able to get into the compost, speeding up the composting process.

With a decent 300 L capacity you don’t have to worry about it filling up too quickly; it’s well suited to a family of 2 or 3. It also has plenty of ventilation openings to prevent your compost from becoming slimy and unusable.

When it comes to removing finished compost, the removable hatch creates a convenient access-point from which compost can easily be reached. The square opening also makes it straight forward to turn the compost with a fork or composting tool.

Assembly doesn’t come much easier than this, and, after arriving flat packed, all the pieces slot simply into place. The primary weakness of this composting unit is its lid – care should be taken when fitting it into position. It may also open if not secured down, which can be remedied by placing a brick on top.

Pros

  • Very easy assembly with click-together components.
  • Good size bin for a small garden.
  • Easy to open the lid one-handed without having to put down clippings etc.
  • Sits nicely alongside other square units, saving space in the garden.
  • You can start using this bin in mere minutes of it arriving.

Cons

  • The lid may need securing down with a brick or similar to stop it opening.
  • Quite lightweight so needs to be placed out of wind or secured to a wall.
  • Care needs to be taken when clicking the lid in place during assembly to protect the hinges.
  • Some users have found that it warps slightly over time due to contents and weather.
  • No instructions or informational guide included, which would be useful although not strictly necessary.
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Blackwall Green Compost Bin

Best for smaller gardens

Design
Durability
Ventilation
Value for Money
Overall
4.2
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Blackwall Green Compost Bin Review

Specifications

  • Capacity: 220l
  • Shape: Round
  • Assembly: Pre-built

For a small/medium garden, this 220L Blackwall Green Composter offers a lot of potential for creating rich, nutrient-heavy compost.

Its “dalek” shaped design has proven to be popular over the years, heating compost well and making it easy to remove material from the bottom hatch.

Plus, the dark green design isn’t only aesthetically pleasing, it’s also practical. Whilst it certainly helps that the colour allows this Blackwell composter to blend in with the garden, the dark hue also helps with retaining heat and speeding up the composting process.

There’s no self-assembly required here, which results in a composting bin with no weak links or corners, and there’s the added benefit of Blackwall manufacturing their composter from recycled plastic too – a real win if you were apprehensive about the plastic construction.

The lid is easy to remove with a simple twist, ensuring that it’s not blown off in strong winds.

You may be surprised at how large the base of this composter is, covering an area of around 74 cm². Naturally, due to the conical shape of the unit, the top opening is significantly smaller. This is the only real drawback of this type of design – they take up space without fully capitalising on their footprint. As a result, it can be harder to get a tool or fork into the opening to efficiently turn all of the compost.

You can buy an additional base plate for this product if you want to place it on a hard standing; however, the best tactic is to leave the bottom open in order to allow worms and other helpful creatures to get in and aid composting.

Pros

  • Sturdy unit as it comes already assembled - no weak links or joins.
  • The right size to efficiently get compost from a small/medium garden.
  • Useful leaflet included giving helpful information about composting.
  • Twist-lock lid stays in place without need for additional security.
  • Dark green colour blends in extremely well with the garden.

Cons

  • May be too lightweight to withstand high winds, so best to store it in a sheltered area.
  • If you want a base you will need to buy one separately, although it works effectively without one.
  • Narrow opening and deep bin can make it difficult to turn compost without the right tool.
  • Some customers think it is priced a little high for what it is.
  • Due to its wide base, it may take up more room than you expect.
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Geezy Garden Compost BinGeezy Garden Compost Bin

Best flat-packed option

Design
Durability
Ventilation
Value for Money
Overall
4.275
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Geezy Garden Compost Bin Review

Specifications

  • Capacity: 300l
  • Shape: Square
  • Assembly: Required

When it comes to composting, why overcomplicate matters? The Geezy Garden Compost Bin is another square composter with a basic but effective design. It has a similar appearance to the 4smile composter, with a square shape that easily slots in next to other units or into the corner of the garden.

This classic unit keeps things simple; the 300 L capacity isn’t overwhelming, making it easy for a small family to easily create quality compost. A hinged lid makes dumping organic material simple, without needing two hands to access the drum, and the bottom hatch effortlessly slides out to facilitate access to the compost.

There shouldn’t be a problem with finding a little nook or area for this composter to tuck away into; it measures just 61 x 61 x 83 cm.

Plenty of ventilation stops compost from rotting or going slimy, and the dark colour encourages heat retention, speeding up the composting process.

Whilst some similar composting units don’t always have very secure lids, the lid on the Geezy compost bin securely clicks closed, staying shut even when it’s windy. This should avoid the necessity to weigh it down, keeping the bin easy to access with one hand.

Arriving flat packed, for simple assembly in your own time, the pieces of this composter slot together neatly without much difficulty. The only thing you might find is that a little bit of force is required to encourage some parts into place.

One potential weakness of this composter is its access hatch. When the unit is very full, the hatch can bulge and pop out of place due to the pressure pushing on it from the compost. This can be remedied by putting a weight or something similar in front of the door to hold it in place.

Pros

  • Easy to assembly with fittings that 'click' well into place.
  • Lid clicks shut and doesn't open even in strong winds.
  • Hinged lid is easily opened with one hand making it simple to fill the bin.
  • Compact design yet square shape makes the most of available space.
  • Sides of the bin hold together well.

Cons

  • The lower hatch door can pop out if too much pressure behind it - need to make sure it is securely fitted.
  • You may need to put something around the bottom edges to stop animals burrowing under.
  • No base provided if you are hoping to place it on concrete or paving.
  • Some customers have found that the plastic can be damaged if it suffers from knocks.
  • Some fittings require a bit of force to connect them together during assembly.
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Hotbin Mini ComposterHotbin Mini Composter

Best for fast compost

Design
Durability
Ventilation
Value for Money
Overall
4.45
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Hotbin Mini Composter Review

Specifications

  • Capacity: 100l
  • Shape: Square
  • Assembly: Pre-built

Cold composters often keep you waiting for compost for around 12 – 24 months, whereas hot composters, like the Hotbin Mini Composter, create nutrient rich compost in a fraction of that time.

Made of recyclable Expanded Polypropylene (EPP), which insulates to the same level as a 600 m thick wall, the Hotbin Mini Composter produces usable compost in just 12 – 24 days.

With a capacity of approximately 100 L, it’s the perfect size for an individual, or two-person family, with a small-to-medium garden. No matter your garden layout, the square design fits neatly into any corner, and the insulative properties mean it works just as well in shaded spots as it does in sunlight.

Measuring 112.5 x 45 x 45 cm, this composter is compact yet sturdily made. It heats quickly thanks to its size and construction, with a lid and internal thermometer included to easily check on your compost’s progress.

Without emitting odours, this Hotbin composter reliably reaches 60°c +, allowing for even cooked foods to be disposed of without problems. The base makes for a secure unit to avoid issues with pests, whilst the cambelt keeps the compost hatch closed until you wish to open it.

When it comes to hot composting, there is a certain amount of upkeep involved; compostable waste will need to be added to the Hotbin Mini Composter on a regular basis. However, an informative guide is included to help explain the process.

Pros

  • Ideal size for a family of 2 with a small to medium garden.
  • Adjustable cambelt holds bottom hatch in place so there's no danger of it popping open.
  • Detailed instructions help you get the most out of your composter.
  • You can even compost cooked waste when the bin reaches 60°C
  • The compost doesn't smell.

Cons

  • 100 L capacity may not be big enough for large gardens or families.
  • Requires slightly more upkeep than cold composting - regular feeding and monitoring.
  • The EPP 'outer' can be damaged or punctured by sharp forks/spades if care isn't taken.
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Blackwall Large Black Compost BinBlackwall Large Black Compost Bin

Best for larger gardens

Design
Durability
Ventilation
Value for Money
Overall
4.25
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Blackwall Large Black Compost Bin Review

Specifications

  • Capacity: 330l
  • Shape: Round
  • Assembly: Pre-built

If 220 L just won’t cut it, but a conical design feels like the right way to go, Blackwall also supply this 330 L Black Compost Converter. It’s the big brother of the smaller Blackwall compost bin featured on this list.

To keep things simple, it requires no assembly: just fit the hatch into place, twist on the lid and you are ready to go. The dark colour helps the bin retain heat, while the secure sides prevent weeds from growing inside and keep in moisture.

With a 330-L capacity, this extra-large bin is perfect if you have a big garden and a lot of waste. It even comes with a helpful leaflet, perfect for the novice gardener, advising what you should and shouldn’t compost.

If you have previously experienced the frustration of lids blowing off compost bins, you’ll be pleased to hear that you won’t ever have to scrabble around in the undergrowth to recover this one. It has a twist-lock design which means it stays firmly in place, even when its windy.

It’s worth making sure that you need such a large capacity, as buying too big a composting unit can inhibit the process – if the bin isn’t full enough, it doesn’t reach a suitable heat.

One final thing to bear in mind: this may not be the best compost bin for your garden if the whole area is very exposed. Ideally, this composter needs to be put somewhere out of the wind, especially whilst it’s fairly empty, as the lightweight construction can cause it to blow around.

Pros

  • Twist-lock lid stays securely in place even in high winds.
  • Doesn't require any assembly.
  • Capacity is excellent for creating compost in a medium/large garden.
  • Informative leaflet included with helpful advice for composting.
  • Dark colour makes it discrete in the garden.

Cons

  • If you feel wish to put on concrete or paving you will need to buy a base separately.
  • Tall design with narrow opening may make it difficult to turn compost without the correct tools.
  • Some customers have found that the bottom hatch requires a bit of reinforcement to ensure it stays in place.
  • Large size can be too big for smaller gardens - won't compost if not enough material stored in the bin.
  • Plastic side walls may be thinner than some other models.
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Rowlinson Wooden ComposterRowlinson Wooden Composter

Best wooden compost bin

Design
Durability
Ventilation
Value for Money
Overall
4.45
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Rowlinson Wooden Composter Review

Specifications

  • Capacity: 439l
  • Shape: Square
  • Assembly: Required

Not keen on the idea of a plastic bin? Looking for something a bit more natural to fit in seamlessly with your garden?

The Rowlinson Wooden Composter offers a basic yet straightforward approach to composting, with a traditional wooden construction that looks both rustic and natural in the garden.

Whether you have wooden decking and planters, or a garden without many features, this 1 x 1 x 0.6 m composter will complement its surroundings. Blending in, thanks to its natural-wood finish, with a 439 L capacity, you’ll be able to dispose of a lot of waste without having a large plastic eyesore in the garden.

As an open-top model, this unit offers a prime example of slow composting. You may not get such speedy results as with a hot composter, but you’ll be able to continuously add to the heap with little worry about filling it up.

This basic composter may not have the bells and whistles of its fancier competitors, but if you’re looking for a simple wooden unit that assembles easily and will steadily tick over, it’s one of the best compost bins for the job.

Just bear in mind that it’s quite cumbersome once assembled – customers generally find it best to assemble in situ, rather than trying to move it into place once it’s put together.

Pros

  • Assembly is quick and simple, taking under 30 mins and requiring only a wooden mallet.
  • Good value for the cheap price.
  • Has a more naturally aesthetic appearance than plastic composters.
  • Sturdy when assembled thanks to tight-fitting joints.
  • Huge maximum capacity of 439 L.

Cons

  • Wood requires treating to look like the pictured composter.
  • As a cold composter, compost may take anywhere between 12 - 24 months.
  • More space required for unit than you might initially expect to accommodate for the overhang of the slats.
  • No access to compost from the sides of the unit - has to be accessed from the top.
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Kangmeile Compost Bag Garden Waste BinKangmeile Compost Bag Garden Waste Bin

Best if you lack space

Design
Durability
Ventilation
Value for Money
Overall
4.275
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Kangmeile Compost Bag Garden Waste Bin Review

Specifications

  • Capacity: 100l
  • Shape: Round
  • Assembly: Pre-built

The Kangmeile Compost Bag is a garden waste bin with a multitude of uses. Unlike others on this list, this compost bin is in the form of a PE bag, which comes with its own advantages.

This compost bag is exceptionally easy to store, and it takes up very little space in your garden. It can even be used on balconies because of how compact it is. The middle opening, which is sealed with a zip, is well sized and the PE material keeps the temperature and moisture content stable.

Best of all, this compost bag has multiple uses. It can be used to create compost in the garden, or store organic garbage in the kitchen.

If you’re working with a small space, this compost bag is helpfully versatile; it has a base meaning it can be placed on either patio and hard surfaces, or on grass.

On the other hand, this does mean that worms and other invertebrates can’t get in through the bottom, so if this is something you’re after, you might wish to consider a baseless composter.

The Kangmeile compost bag is still more than capable of creating great compost, and measuring just 45 x 80 cm, and weighing just 240 g, it’s perfect for those who lack space in their garden. When part full, it can even be picked up and shaken by the handles to aid ventilation.

Pros

  • It's a very compact unit - perfect for small gardens or even balconies.
  • Can even be placed in the kitchen as an organic waste bin.
  • Cheap composting solution compared to other composters.
  • This bin has a base so can be placed on hard surfaces like patios.

Cons

  • Not the most durable unit - expect a lifespan of perhaps around one year.
  • Very lightweight and needs to be securely weighted until sufficiently full.
  • Worms and other invertebrates can't easily get in due to base.
  • Not a direct substitute for a standard composting bin - just a good compromise if you really lack space.
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Things to Know Before Buying a Compost Bin

A compost bin is a must-have for any serious gardener; it converts your waste into a nutrient-rich soil improver. Once you find the best compost bin for your needs, you’ll be able to make nutrient-rich compost within 6 months and never have to buy compost from the garden centre ever again!

In addition, a compost bin provides a place to put garden waste such as grass cuttings and weeds. What’s not to love?

If you’re thinking about buying a compost bin, take a look at the following tips to help you make an informed purchase.

Buying the Right Size Compost Bin

Before purchasing anything for your garden you need to be sure you’ve got somewhere to put it. Check the dimensions of your potential future compost bin and compare them with the space available in your garden. You may be surprised by how much room some of them take up! That said, there are also compact designs which may be perfect to help really make the most of the space you have to hand.

What type of waste will you be throwing in to your compost bin? In the list above I’ve featured bins with massive 862 L capacities as well as smaller 220 L ones. If you’re mostly throwing away food waste and small garden waste such as weeds, you won’t need a huge bin; however, if you’re hoping to compost a lot of large cuttings you may wish to consider one of the bigger options.

The fuller your bin, the better it will retain heat, which in turn will help the composting process.

Choosing the Best Material

Compost bins come in a range of materials, below I’ve assessed some of the pros and cons of the most popular choices.

Wood

Wooden compost bins blend in naturally with your garden. They’re more aesthetically pleasing than plastic bins which is great if you can’t hide your bin from view. Slatted designs also allow for good aeration.

Wooden bins are often heavier than plastic ones and generally require assembly after purchase. The wood will need to be treated regularly to prevent rotting. Some wooden compost bins don’t have lids.

Plastic

Plastic bins are light and often arrive ready-to-use (no assembly needed!). Many designs feature plastic drawer hatches to facilitate compost removal. The dark colour of plastic designs traps heat and aids the composting process.

Plastic bins are not as aesthetically pleasing as wooden ones. Some designs do not let the air circulate well. Many designs have screw-top lids which can be less practical.

Recycled Materials

Generally when a compost bin is made from recycled materials it is either made from recycled plastic or wood. Therefore, these compost bins share the same attributes as other bins made from these materials, but with the added ecological benefit that they have been recycled.

Finding a Style That Works For You

There are a lot of different styles to choose from, ranging from the wooden ‘beehive’ compost bin to the upright ‘dalek’. In terms of aesthetic style, it really just depends what you would like to have in your garden.

When it comes to lid style, there are compost bins with different types of lids, or no lid at all! Screw lids can be great for keeping heat in, but impractical for times when you want to put material in the bin and your hands are full. A hinged lid may be more practical in these instances. If your compost bin has no lid, it can be easy to empty your waste into, but it won’t retain heat as well which will mean slower composting.

Why Compost Bin Shape is Important

The shape of the compost bin can make a big difference depending on the space you have available.

Square compost bins can tesselate better, especially if you have more than one, and don’t leave wasted space in the same way that round bins can. It is also often easier to load a square bin, as the opening is bigger and more conveniently shaped. However, aesthetically you may prefer the look of a tall round bin as opposed to a chunkier square one.

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Compost Bin FAQs

Where should I put my compost bin?

It is best to position your compost bin in a shady or semi-shady place in the garden. The microorganisms that help convert waste to compost work better in steady conditions rather than when exposed to temperature extremes.

Ideally, you should place your bin directly on the earth so that worms and other helpful invertebrates, as well as microorganisms, can get in. If you do have to site your bin on a hard surface, be sure to add a couple of spades of earth to the bin before adding any waste to get things started.

What waste can I put in my compost bin?

Many organic items can be put in your compost bin including: raw food scraps (such as fruit and vegetable peelings), egg shells and coffee grounds.

You can also put annual weed and grass clippings in your compost bin.

Household waste such as shredded paper and fireplace ash is also fine to compost.

You should avoid putting cooked food, meat and fish in your compost bin as this may create unpleasant smells and attract pests.

You should also avoid putting in diseased plants and perennial weeds – this can spread the problem around the garden when you use the compost. Most garden compost units do not create a high enough heat kill these diseases and weeds.

The compost in my bin is very dry and fibrous and doesn’t seem to be rotting down. What can I do?

It sounds like your compost is too dry. Try adding more green waste such as grass cuttings and vegetable peelings. You could also add some fresh manure, or a sprinkling of blood fish and bone, to help activate the compost. If you’d prefer to buy a product to help, a compost activator such as ‘Garotta’ which will do the job.

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Sources

  1. “The Science of Composting”Composting for the Homeowner. University of Illinois.
  2. Trautmann, Nancy; Olynciw, Elaina. “Compost Microorganisms”CORNELL Composting. Cornell Waste Management Institute.
  3. “The Rapid Compost Method by Robert Raabe, Professor of Plant Pathology, Berkeley”
  4.  “Composting” (PDF). USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. April 1998
  5.  “Backyard Composting” (PDF)Virginia Cooperative Extension. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

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