Composting your kitchen and garden waste is not only useful for keeping your garden healthy, but it also benefits wildlife and the environment, too.
Your food and garden waste enters a compost bin and then will break down over a year or so to reveal fresh, home-made compost. Compost is full of the nutrients your plants need so it is an ideal fertiliser to use and you can either use it as an organic mulch around the base of shrubs and trees, or dig it in as a soil improver.
Below, we go through exactly what to put in a compost bin before offering guidance on how to choose the best garden compost bin for you.
There are many types of compost bins available, which are explained in the above video as well as detailed below. The styles range from those you can make yourself, to at-home wormeries which let wildlife do the hard work for you. Every type of compost bin is different and will have its own benefits, depending on what you are looking for.
Following our short guide, we have also included a suggested list of compost bins which cover a range of styles, sizes and price ranges.
If you are new to composting or would simply like some more practical tips and information, see our guides on how to make compost, how to turn your compost and how to make a composting trench. We also have a handy trouble-shooting video on common problems with composting. Start composting at home and watch your garden flourish!
- How to choose the best compost bin
- Types of compost bins
- What to put in a compost bin
- 10 of the best compost bins
When choosing the best garden compost bin for you, there are a number of factors to consider. These include the size of your plot, the design of your garden and the amount of compost you are hoping to produce.
Firstly, how much space do you have available? Compost bins come in a variety of sizes and with a range of capacities. You will therefore also need to consider how much compost you would like to make and how quickly. If you are not prepared to wait a year for your first batch, there are compost bins which can speed up the process, as we explain in more detail below.
The type of ground you are setting your bin on is also important, as some types will ideally need to be placed on grass or earth while others can sit on hard ground.
Compost bins come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are made using different materials. Here, we explain the different types of compost bins along with the conditions and tasks they would each be suitable for.
Make your own compost bin
You can make your own compost bin using wooden pallets or corrugated iron. Enclosing the sides will retain heat, speeding up the rotting process. The larger the pile, the more heat. The ideal minimum size is 1m x 1m and, ideally, make more than one – it makes the compost easier to turn.
Plastic compost bin
A plastic compost bin is ideal for a small space. The plastic sides and lid retain moisture and heat to encourage rapid decomposition. They also block out light to stop weeds regrowing. The bin should ideally be placed on grass or earth.
Hot composting bin
Insulated with a close-fitting lid, hot composting bins are designed to allow decomposition at a much higher temperature and a higher speed (30-90 days, compared to around six months for ordinary compost) and result in a finer compost. They are roughly the size of a wheelie bin and can stand on a hard surface.
Wormery compost bin
Wormeries are designed for the small-scale composting of kitchen waste. Worms mix and break down the compost quickly and produce a nutrient-rich liquid for use as a fertiliser. Compost worms can also be added to larger bins. Not all waste can be composted, so you’ll still need a compost bin too.
There are a whole range of kitchen and garden waste materials which can be put into a compost bin. The only exception are wormeries, which are designed for smaller scale food waste only.
For the other types of compost bins you can throw in leaves, grass, garden clippings and any vegetable waste, ranging from potato peelings and even coffee grounds. You can also add black and white newspapers, sawdust and wood shavings. The key is getting the ratio of green to brown waste correct, which you can discover in our compost guide.
Browse our selection of composters, below.
Blackwall Green Compost Converter
Made largely from recycled plastic, the Blackwall Compost Converter consists of a one-piece cone shaped body with a snug-fitting removable lid and single hatch. Having been awarded a BBC Gardeners’ World Best Buy as the best budget model, it is a good option for those who want a simple and affordable compost bin.
Read the full Blackwall Compost Converter review.
Green Johanna 330-litre Hot Composter
Awarded a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy for the most versatile compost bin, Green Johanna 330-litre Hot Composter has a good capacity of 300 litres and works effectively for all types of food and garden waste. It does not need pre-mixing and is made from 100 per cent-recycled plastic.
Read the full Green Johanna 330-litre Hot Composter review.
Modular Wooden Compost Bin
This traditional wooden compost bin has a huge 573 litre capacity making it best suited for large gardens or allotments. Made from sustainably sourced Scandinavian softwood, the planks slot into upright grooves on the corner posts and the bin can be accessed from every side.
Read the full Modular Wooden Compost Bin review.
Hotbin Mk. 2 Composter
A good option for small spaces, the Hotbin Mk. 2 Composter was a BBC Gardeners’ World Best Buy winner for being the fastest to compost. It has a built-in carbon filter to absorb any smells, a temperature gauge on the lid and a tank in the base to collect the liquid produced during composting.
Read the full Hotbin Mk. 2 Composter review.
Easy-Load Wooden Compost Bin
The simple construction of this wooden compost bin allows for 530 litres of volume. It’s made from slats to allow air circulation around the compost and the front ones are removable, making filling up the bin much easier and allowing lots of room to get at the compost when it’s ready. Made from pressure treated pine, the slats have a smooth, planed finish and are guaranteed against rot for 15 years.
280 Litre Rapid Composter
This hot compost bin is made from 100% recycled materials and has a 280-litre capacity, which the manufacturer recommends as an ideal size for a family of four. There are hinged lids which can be opened and closed with one hand, as well as an additional sliding door to easily access the finished compost. This composter should accelerate break down times and has a summer and winter function on the lid to ensure optimum ventilation for the time of year.
Tumbleweed Worm Cafe – 3 Tray Worm Farm
The Tumbleweed Worm Cafe is ideal for those considering a wormery composter. There are three vented trays which the worms move through to break down the waste. The sloping base encourages worms to keep moving and the compost bin includes a worm bedding block and conditioner, so you have everything you need to get started. There’s also a hinged, fly proof lid for simple access which even has the instructions engraved underneath.
400 Litre Thermo-King Composter
This hot compost bin has a 400-litre capacity and thanks to the ‘thermo walls’ and carefully designed ventilation system should accelerate your compost break down time. The bin is made from 100% recycled materials and includes two large hatches to fill it up from as well as a cover lock for wind-proofing and adjusting ventilation. You’ll need to put it together yourself but it’s simple to do and you don’t need tools.
This dual tray worm farm is designed to encourage worms to continue moving around the container to break down your waste into natural compost. The round shape prevents worms from getting trapped in any corners and a tap allows easy drainage of liquid when needed. The ventilated lid is fly proof and the bin is made from recycled plastic.
450 Litre Eco Master Composter
This plastic compost bin is made from 100% recycled materials and is designed to take up minimum ground space in the garden. The bin is ventilated and includes a wind protective lid, feed opening and a handy flap to withdraw the compost from. It’s a self-assembly compost bin but you won’t need any tools to build it.
The Green Johanna
This hot compost bin can compost two parts food waste to one-part garden waste and is designed to allow microorganisms, worms and oxygen to function together and create ideal break down temperatures. The ventilated lid regulates the air circulation while the round shape of the composter helps heat spread evenly around the waste. Vents on the bottom allow access for worms as well as air to enter from the base. A winter jacket is also available to help maintain temperatures through the colder months, for an additional £69.99.
This plastic garden compost bin is an economical choice and has a 300-litre capacity. There’s a hinged lid to fill up the composter from the top as well as a hatch door for emptying. Ventilated openings also facilitate air circulation. The bin arrives flat packed and can be simply clicked together for straight-forward self-assembly.
Beehive Compost Bin
If you’d rather avoid a plastic compost bin then this beehive-shaped, wooden bin would make an attractive and less obtrusive addition to your garden. It’s made from pressure treated natural timber which has a 15-year guarantee against rot.. There’s a useful prop to hold open the lid on the top while the lower flap allows for easy compost removal. It arrives as a flat pack kit which is slotted together.