How to Make a Compost Bin From Wooden Pallets

Updated April 17, 2017

Composting is a great way to recycle yard waste and kitchen scraps. It keeps those materials out of municipal landfills and rewards you with nutrient-rich humus for your garden. Composting can be as simple as a pile on the ground, but the neighbours may complain about the aesthetics of a pile of rotting leaves and coffee grounds. Build a wooden compost bin out of salvaged freight pallets and you will keep those materials out of the landfill, speed up the composting process, and make the neighbours happy as well, all in one afternoon.

Choose a place to build your compost bin. Ideally, it should be close to the garden so you will not have to haul the finished compost very far. Choose a place with solid, level ground. Remember, when it is full the compost bin will be heavy and will sink in loose soil.

Lay a pallet, slats facing up, in your chosen spot. This will be the bottom of your compost bin. The slats will provide plenty of aeration and drainage for your compost pile.

Stand up two more pallets, slats facing outward, at a 90-degree angle. These will form two of the walls of the compost bin. Nail them together at the corner.

Add a third pallet at a 90-degree angle to form the third wall. Again, the slats should face outward. Nail this pallet to the others at the corner.

Attach the fourth wall using the hinges. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to install the hinges correctly. This will form a gate that will allow you to easily empty the compost bin.

Install the gate latch between the first and fourth pallets.

Set the wall structure on top of the bottom pallet. Square the corners if necessary, then nail the wall structure to the bottom.

Paint the outside of the compost bin if desired. Do not paint the inside, as harmful chemicals from the paint can leach into the compost.

If the weather is very dry or very wet, lay the tarp over the compost bin to maintain the correct moisture level. Weigh it down with rocks or bricks.


It will be helpful to have a second person hold the pallets steady while you nail them in place.


Eventually the bottom pallet will decompose. When this happens, remove the sides and replace it with a new pallet. Chop up the old bottom pallet and add it to the compost pile.

Things You'll Need

  • 5 wooden freight pallets measuring 40 inches by 48 inches, with 12-inch to 1-inch spaces between slats
  • 1 1/2-inch nails
  • Hammer
  • 2 gate hinges
  • Gate latch
  • Paint and brush (optional)
  • 6-foot square tarp
  • 4 large stones or bricks
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About the Author

Tricia Ballad is a writer, author and project geek. She has written several books including two novels, teaches classes on goal setting and project planning for writers, and loves to cook in her spare time. She is living proof that you can earn a living with a degree in creative writing.