Construction Materials needed for each compost bin:
- Four pallets – 48”x40” (pallets vary, so the end size might be slightly different)
- One 2×4 and two 2×2’s
- One roll of hardware cloth with ½ inch squares, 48 inches wide and 25 feet long
- Deck nails: 3 in, 2 ½ in, 2 in and 1 ½ in
- One-inch shingle nails
- Staples and stapler
- Two battery-powered screwdrivers
- Battery powered skill saw
- First aid kit in case of emergency
Overview of building a pallet compost bin
1. All four pallets are laid out to measure the dimensions of the bin. One pallet is on the ground, two are on sides, one is at the front, and there is an open back with boards supporting the frame.
2. The floor pallet must be of good quality – it is covered by hardware cloth and secured with staples and shingle nails on the ground to make it vermin–proof and very stable.
3. The front pallet is held in place so the side pallets can be measured accurately. The side pallets are then attached with 3-inch deck screws.
4. The back of the bin is the only side not utilizing a pallet – it is made by cutting an 8-foot 2×4 to the same length of the side pallets. Three boards are cut to the width of the back and attached with screws.
5. The sides and back of the bin are covered with hardware cloth, which is secured by staples and shingle nails.
6. The front pallet is returned to its place after being carefully measured. The hardware cloth used to cover the front panel is overlapped with the sides about 2-3 inches and stapled and shingle nailed in place. Small boards are screwed in place at roughly 45-degree angles to lock the front to the sides. These boards can be easily removed in the springtime to allow for the simple removal of the compost.
7. A top is made from a frame of 2×2’s sides cut to loosely fit the top of the bin. Be sure to measure the edges of the bin itself. Since the bin is a rectangle, if you just cut the 2”x2” in half you may not have enough wood. The frame is secured with screws at the corners. Hardware cloth is attached to the frame with staples and shingle nails. Plywood triangles are attached to each corner to stabilize the top. Check to make sure it fits.
Bins can be located in the sun or shade, but they function best when they are located close to the drop off location, to improve the accessibility of the drop-off sites. Bins that will be used in the winter also need to be near the drop off locations to facilitate easy pickup in the snow.
Best Management Practices/Bin Maintenance
Bins are filled with layers of browns and greens (see below for more info). The bottom layer should be made of straw or wood chips to provide aeration. The layers should be about the same size by volume, so if there are 4-5 inches of green, there will be 4-5 inches of browns. To prevent odor problems, the top layer will be brown. Once the bin is filled, it is topped with straw and left until it is ready to be opened 6 to 8 months later.