Did you just get your first compost bin and don’t know where to place it? Most people underestimate the notion of placement, but finding a strategic location for your compost bin can go a long way in helping you produce compost more efficiently.
Some individuals have their compost bins tucked away in the less visible corners of their gardens to preserve overall aesthetics. However, that may be counterproductive.
Compost bins should be easily accessible, but not in a place where the smell of the decaying kitchen waste may infest your or your neighbors’ house. Place yours in sandy, well-leveled soil, with access to sunlight. Keeping your compost warm is vital to the composting process because it stimulates decomposition.
Conversely, if you leave your compost in the shade, you risk having your compost drop in temperature, which might slow down decomposition. This is worse in cold climates. On that note, it’s clear that choosing a good spot for your compost bin can make the difference, as it can improve upon the composting process.
To help you find the best location for your compost bin, we have come up with 10 unique tips/considerations that will help you make up your mind.
Where to place your compost bin
Placing your compost bin where you can easily discharge your kitchen scraps is an excellent way to proactively deal with waste. However, having it just outside your kitchen might be inconvenient. What if your compost begins to smell from having excessive nitrogen built-up? Yes, you can fix the smell by adding more carbon to your compost heap but having that occasionally happen is still a nuisance.
Alternatively, if you place your compost bin in a less visible part of your garden, that can lead to the accumulation of waste in your kitchen, since you’ll feel less compelled to recycle your waste.
Want to set your compost bin correctly? Check out the tips I’ve written below.
Easily accessible location
Set up your compost bin not too far from your house so that you can more easily compost kitchen waste. Having your compost bin located far out means you have to cover more distance whenever you need to make discharges.
This might leave you reluctant to discharge your waste or even keep you from turning your compost heap. For people living in a rainy location, this might be even worse because it can heighten their lack of motivation.
You can prevent that by having your compost bin a bit closer to your home, but not too close, otherwise, you risk having a couple of issues happening:
- Bad smell from unbalanced compost infesting your house;
- Flies are attracted to bad smell therefore they may also infest your house;
- In addition to flies, rodents are also attracted to bad odor, so it’s an even worse situation if they decide to invade your house.
To prevent these issues, keep your compost bin at least 10 feet away from your house, and considering acquiring a small indoor compost bin (like this one on Amazon) to keep your kitchen waste until it’s packed and you need to add it to your compost heap.
Fairly warm location
A location that is too cold can slow down the composting process. You have to put your compost bin in a place where it has access to direct sunlight. The rays emanated from the sun will help heat the pile, which will allow you to produce compost more quickly.
This is especially important if you live in a cold location or you’re going through winter. Winter composting is like summer composting but in slow motion, and one of the most adopted tactics (besides covering compost heaps with a tarp) is to place it in a location where there is direct sunlight.
A lot of compost bins are black or dark in color because it helps absorb the warmth of the sun and retain it. Still, you must have a well-balanced compost heap, as this is even more important for the waste to decay appropriately.
Not an excessively hot location
Placing your compost bin in a hot corner of your garden will undoubtedly aid in creating compost more quickly, but it’s also true that having some level of moisture is required for the microorganisms/bacteria to thrive. The same goes for oxygen.
You must avoid areas where there is constant and intense sunlight, otherwise, you risk drying up your compost heap, which will slow down the composting process.
Avoid windy locations
If you put your compost bin in a very windy location, your compost heap might dry out, unless you’re using a fairly well-insulated bin like the Miracle-Gro. If your compost has too many airways, then the best option is to place it somewhere with a windbreak.
Place it near your plants
Ready compost is not particularly light or easy to carry, so if you have compost available, you will want to avoid traveling long distances to use it.
It might be advantageous for you to keep your compost bin close to your plants, to facilitate its use. Naturally, if you do not intend to use the compost to nurture your flowers or plants, then don’t take my advice to heart.
Put it near your plants but not under a tree!
Perhaps putting your compost bin under a tree is ideal to protect your compost bin from excessive heat and sunlight, or strong wind.
However, that’s not necessarily a good idea because trees are very thirsty, which means if you put an open-bottomed compost bin under a tree, you risk having it absorb all of the moisture and nutrients from your heap.
That is unless the tree is old and very large, which means the roots are very deep and shouldn’t interfere with your compost heap.
Don’t place it in a cramped space
The issue with placing your compost bin in a cramped space is that you won’t have any space to take care of your heap.
For instance, if you wish to turn the pile with a long instrument like the pitchfork, it becomes very difficult to do it properly if you don’t have the right amount of space to maneuver it. For your compost to be aerated properly, you need to mix it often, so you need the space to effectively do that.
If you don’t have a lot of space in your garden and can only create compost in a very tight area, then I’d recommend getting a small compost tumbler (like the Miracle-Gro).
Place it on level, well-drained soil
You need a level (or plain) surface to set up your bin, but it should also be well-drained, otherwise, you might run into issues like having your heap excessively moist, particularly if you’re using an open-bottomed bin.
Even though moisture is important for microbes to thrive, having too much moisture limits the amount of oxygen the bacteria can access. This may inevitably lead to their death, and may also cause your heap to smell very badly.
To prevent this from happening, you must place your compost bin on healthy soil, so that the leachate/liquids released by your heap can seep into the soil. If you set your pin on a hard surface or pavement, that won’t happen, which is counterproductive.
I guess the most obvious advice when looking for well-drained soil is to not install your compost bin on a puddle.
Still, place your compost bin close to a water source
Your compost still needs some level of moisture to thrive, especially during summer, when the climate is significantly drier. As you turn your heap, add some moisture to it.
Having a long hose will make up for not having a water supply nearby, which is certainly helpful if your compost bin is located a bit far from your house.
Keep it away from your neighbor’s garden
Remember what I said about compost smelling badly at times? If you place your compost bin right next to your neighbor’s house/garden, you’ll likely have someone knocking on your door because of it. For the sake of good relations, don’t do it.
Leave space for more compost bins
Right now you might only have a small garden so you don’t need much compost, so one bin is probably enough to do your bidding at the moment. However, if you eventually expand your garden, you’ll need to produce more compost for your plants.
My advice would be to leave some extra space for a couple more bins, as they may come in handy if you want to increase production. Having multiple bins gives you multiple locations to add your greens and browns. Since compost generally takes a while to mature before it’s finally ready, having more than one bin can be game-changing.
By having multiple bins, one compost heap will be ready for your garden, while at the same time, you can be preparing a new batch of compost in a different bin. In other words, it allows you to have compost ready to use without having to wait as long.
Should I put my compost bin in the sun or shade?
You can put your compost bin in the sun or the shade, but placing it in the sun will hasten the composting process. The sun increases the temperature of the compost, which consequently allows the fungi and bacteria to work faster.
However, if you live in a warm southern climate, I’d be careful to leave the bin in a place with too much direct sunlight, otherwise, your compost might get too dry, which will slow down the decomposing process. You need to have balance.
Does my compost bin need to be covered?
Well, in most cases you don’t need a bin, since a cover can sometimes limit airflow which would prevent the fungi and bacteria from getting oxygen. However, it does make sense to use one if you want to protect your compost from heavy rain, or if you wish to retain some temperature within the heap.
For instance, during winter when the temperatures drop, it’s quite common for people to cover their compost heaps to keep them active. If you allow the temperature of your compost pile below a certain level, it will take a very long time before you have finished compost, and in some cases, the composting process may halt entirely.
If you wish to learn more about whether or not you should cover your compost pile (or bin), feel free to read this short article.
Does my compost bin need a bottom?
Compost bins generally don’t need bottoms. Having the composting materials sit directly on the soil will allow bacteria, worms, and other insects — creatures that facilitate the composting process — to enrich the compost.
If you need to add a base (because you’re afraid rodents may invade your heap from below), then add something like a wire mesh that will still allow the living beings I’ve just mentioned to get into your compost.