Choosing between a compost pile and a bin is a common dilemma for home composters.
- Decide based on available space.
- Consider the desired compost volume.
- Account for potential pest issues.
- Weigh the time and labor commitment.
- Think about compost quality needs.
To decide between a compost pile and a bin, first, I assess how much space I have in my yard or outdoor area. If it’s limited, I go for a bin. For larger spaces with a need for more compost, I consider setting up a compost pile. Next, I think about how much compost I actually need. If frequent, high-volume composting is my goal, a pile is more suitable. However, for smaller, consistent batches, a bin does the job well.
Managing pests is crucial; I choose a bin with a secure lid if I’m concerned about critters or the compost being too attractive to pests. Regarding time and effort, I opt for a bin if I’m looking for a low-maintenance solution. It tends to be easier to manage and can produce compost relatively quickly. For the final point, the quality of compost matters. If I want faster, hotter composting, I work with a pile, turning it regularly, but if I’m okay with a bit slower process with less monitoring, a bin is perfectly fine.
Composting may seem complicated for many first-time enthusiasts, especially when taking a stance on the compost pile vs bin debate. How do you know which style of composting is best for your space and personal needs? We break down the benefits and drawbacks you might encounter with each system.
Composting is an excellent way to keep your yard and food waste out of landfills. According to The Environmental Protection Agency, this type of waste makes up roughly 30% of the landfill volumes in America. Home composters can make a real difference by recycling vegetable scraps, garden waste, and other common carbon material types.
We hope you enjoy our beginner-friendly guide to getting the best out of your compost bin or pile. Composting might sound complex, but it all makes sense once you begin. Learn about appropriate green and brown materials and their interaction with moisture and air to produce fine, fluffy compost.
Learn About Compost Structure
Discover how to use your kitchen waste wisely along with common composting pros and cons. If you’re thinking about starting a compost pile, we’ve got some helpful information to start you thinking about your future setup.
Find the many benefits of learning to compost in bins versus building a compost pile, which is more space-friendly, produces faster results, and is more suitable for large-scale compost production. Get all your compost questions in one place.
Compost Pile vs Bin – Size and Space
The first thing to consider in the compost pile vs bin debate is the space you have available to devote to composting. The average composting bin has a much smaller footprint than an organic compost pile, which makes composting more accessible.
Compost bins, compost tumblers, and green cone units are ideal for small gardens and compact outdoor spaces. However, with convenience sometimes comes limitations; the bin size reduces the amount of usable compost you can generate throughout the year.
If you have the space and need high levels of compost production, consider adding a few compost piles to your land. A pile allows you to scale your compost depending on your requirements and give the extra to friends. You can make a compost pile from leaves and twigs as well as kitchen scraps. You need a 3-foot by 3-foot square minimum to start a successful compost heap and achieve optimal decomposition.
Compost Pile vs Bin – Pests and Rodents
When planning your compost structure, it’s essential to consider the natural environment around you. Is the smell of openly composting material going to attract unwanted visitors, such as rodents or flies?
Compost piles attract rodents because an open pile of decaying organic waste makes an easy meal or an ideal nest. If you live in a rodent-prone area of the US, the best compost bin will be designed to keep things out.
Fortunately, there are commercially available bins and types of compost with critter considerations in mind. These tend to be a little more expensive than their plain-Jane counterparts without the bells and whistles. Ericaceous compost is highly acidic, so it helps keep pests away. However, if your peace of mind is worth the few extra bucks, spend that money guilt-free.
How to Pest-Proof Your Compost Area
Home composting sometimes comes with little annoyances. We always have to look out for scavengers trying to take advantage of our compostable material. Explore some helpful ideas for pest-proofing the compost structure and a DIY tutorial for simple wire fencing.
Experts recommend galvanized wire mesh; steel dipped in molten zinc for extra durability. However, any available wire fencing is fine. Measure ten feet of wire fence; this should cover a 3-foot compost bin. Put your work gloves on and cut the section off the roll with your wire cutter.
Flatten the fence by laying it flat and walking over it. Use the zip ties to fasten the two ends of the wire fence together, forming a circle. Place your new wire fence around your compost pile, and you’re set. Make your own design improvements on this rudimentary fence, and see what you come up with.
Items That Don’t Belong in Compost
One thing that remains the same when discussing the essential points of starting a composting bin vs pile is what you can’t compost. While there are plenty of things meant for compost, such as kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and wood chips, there are certain materials you can’t put in either compost system.
Dairy items such as cheese, butter, and yogurt create odors when decomposing, attracting flies and other pests. The same applies to meat and fish products, fats, oils, and fried food waste. Dispose of these items elsewhere.
Avoid yard waste treated with inorganic pesticides because they harm the beneficial organisms that push the composting process along. Never put any animal or human waste into the compost. Home compost piles can’t reach the temperatures required to process and sterilize these materials.
Compost Bin and Compost Pile Benefits – Time and Labor
Let’s get into compost pile benefits compared to the bin and discuss what kind of timeline you might expect before you generate finished compost. Find out what to expect if you’re trying to achieve specific gardening goals before inclement weather kicks in.
Compost bins, as a general rule, are much lower maintenance than compost piles; keep adding organic material and let the controlled environment of the bin take over. A compost bin is able to regulate the temperatures and moisture levels better. A bin produces reliable rough compost in four weeks and rich, nutritious usable compost in three months.
Conversely, compost piles need regular monitoring to ensure the ideal temperature for decomposition. Turn the pile regularly to compost things; you can’t add any material after a certain point, or it won’t finish composting. Cold composting takes up to 12 months, and hot composting takes as little as four weeks to complete.
How to Layer Compost Material
To reap compost pile benefits, you must get your compost healthy and thriving. Carefully consider how green and brown compost materials interact to create the ideal conditions for rich compost.
Plan for adequate drainage by starting your compost with brown material; use yard waste like leaf piles and sticks; and be cautious of weed seeds. Add a 4-inch layer of greens. Green material has high nitrogen content and includes vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and grass clippings.
Now, you have a brown layer and a green layer. It’s time to add a few handfuls of soil to introduce some microorganisms. Finish with another 6-inch layer of brown material like wood chips, sawdust, or cardboard, and sprinkle with water to add moisture. If you have leftover materials, steep them in a bucket of water for ten days to make compost tea.
We hope this article provided plenty of excellent information about how a compost pile vs bin system might enhance your composting procedures. The type of compost structure you use depends on the available space and the amount of compost you want to generate.
Consider your environment, whether pests or neighbors might be a concern, and plan your approach accordingly; an open heap of organic matter exposed to the elements isn’t for everyone. Ensure you have the time and space to devote to your composting setup and start there.
Be mindful of what goes into your compost heap or bin. Avoid food scraps like dairy, meat, and oily fried foods because they attract rodents and insects. Stick to healthy green and brown material for the most nutritious compost haul.
If you liked our in-depth information about compost pile vs bin methods, share this article with your home composting circle on Pinterest or Facebook to help them choose the right compost structure, too.