Posted: 24/04/2014 at 10:22
As artjak says, it's a good idea to have two bins so that the contents of one (when full) can be left to decompose whilst you are filling the other one. Compost needs heat and air - so you should ideally "stir" the contents of the bins as they fill. Siting them in a warm place helps too, as is the fact that the council's ones are usually black & thus absorb & retain heat well. When the first bin is full, it's a good idea to empty its contents into the second bin and then begin all over again with the first one. Soon after that the composted stuff which you started with will be OK to use, but sieveing it helps too especially if you want to use it to fill pots/planters etc.
I reckon it's best to put the bins on a paved surface with small gaps between the paving slabs. That way the worms can get in & help get the whole composting process going, and if the gaps are less than half-an-inch wide, mice can't get in there. Another idea is to put the bins down on the ground with some small-gauge wire mesh underneath. However, this doesn't stop some small rodents! As others have said, compost shouldn't smell bad - if it does it's probably because the contents don't consist of stuff which is suitable in the first place. A mixture - in shallow layers - of all sorts of green stuff is good, plus shredded paper/vegetable peelings/twiggy stuff cut up into small pieces etc as this helps keep some airy space in the bin. It's not a good idea to put a large amount of lawn mowings in unless this is scattered/mixed with the rest of it. You can put weeds in too - but not if they have seeded, otherwise you'll only be spreading the weeds themselves when you eventually use the compost.
I have two black bins, plus a big heap of other garden waste which is left to decompose in the corner of the field beyond the fence at home - the only unwanted visitors I've ever found in the bins are the odd slug or two. The stuff in the corner of the field takes longer to break down because I don't "stir" it - I used to leave the curious cattle to do that, but now the field has been planted with potatoes so the heap will have to be left to its own devices & will take longer to be useable.