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To save space, hasten decomposition, and keep the yard looking neat, contain the compost in some sort of structure. A wide variety of composting structures can be purchased, or made from a variety of materials. They can be as simple or complex as desired.
Yard wastes can be composted either in simple holding units, where they will sit undisturbed for slow decomposition, or in tumbling compost bins, which produce finished compost as quickly as just a few weeks with a good mix of materials.
Holding units are simple containers used to store garden waste in an organized way until these materials break down. A holding unit is the easiest way to compost. It only requires placing wastes into a pile or bin as they are generated. Non-woody materials such as grass clippings, crop wastes, garden weeds, and leaves work best in these systems. A holding unit can be a cylinder formed of wire (chicken wire is too weak to hold up to the bulk), or wood scraps. Openings in the sides need to be large enough to permit plenty of air, but small enough to contain the materials that are composting.
Turning units are typically a series of bins used for building and turning active compost piles. A turning unit allows wastes to be conveniently mixed for aeration on a regular basis.
Read about why I like compost tumblers.
Home gardeners are constantly inventing creative and inexpensive ways to hold their compost – for example, bins made from wire mesh or from shipping pallets.
Some gardeners lash together four pallets, leaving one corner loosely attached to act as a door. Others install posts in four corners, nail the pallets to the posts to form three sides of the bin, and wire the last pallet with some slack to allow access.
Make a simple, three-sided bin by stacking concrete or cinder blocks. Leave the fourth side open for turning the pile or for access to the finished compost.
Renewed interest in recycling has prompted a great increase in the types of composting systems available commercially. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each type of compost bin to choose the best one for your yard, budget, and life-style. They range from wire containers to plastic bins and tumblers. Composters are available online from our online composter store.
Learn about making compost tea on this page.