The Ultimate Guide to Building and Using a 2-Bin Compost System

Couple throwing cut grass to 2 bin compost system

Are you tired of wasting valuable kitchen scraps that could be enhancing your garden instead? Composting is a brilliant solution, but it’s hard to maintain consistency with just one bin.

That’s where our guide on building and using a 2 bin compost system comes into play – transforming waste into nutrient-rich soil has never been simpler. Ready to cultivate your green thumb? Let’s grow!

Key Takeaways

  • A two-bin compost system is an effective way to increase compost production and maintain operational efficiency.
  • The construction of a two-bin compost system requires specific tools such as a saw, power screwdriver/drill, and 1/8th inch drill bit, as well as untreated 2x framing lumber for eco-friendly construction.
  • Using a two-bin compost system efficiently involves filling one bin completely before moving on to the next, alternating fresh and partially decomposed materials, monitoring moisture levels, aerating regularly, and taking advantage of dual space for different composting methods or materials.
  • Benefits of a two-bin compost system include rodent-proof composting, dual space for managing different stages of decomposition, customizability compared to commercial bins, and consistent harvests of nutrient-rich soil.

The Need for a Two-Bin Compost System

Creating a two-bin compost system is an effective way to double your compost production, useful especially for avid gardeners with a large volume of material like leaves, grass clippings, and plant cuttings.

This innovative system aids in the separation of fresh waste from almost finished compost, ensuring operational efficiency. One bin receives newly generated waste while the other busily breaks down older compost into nutrient-rich fertilizer tea ready for use on plants, vegetables, flowers, or herbs.

Not only does this method speed up the decomposition process through bacteria and organisms found in nearly finished compost introduced to new piles; but it also allows for slow-decomposing materials to be transferred out from the old batch into the new pile without disturbing its composite-making ability.

Opting for untreated 2x framing lumber during construction ensures chemical-free organic matter – perfect mulch to enrich soil quality! A power screwdriver/drill used instead of nails ensures a tight hold over time, giving you a sturdy structure that’s built to last.

How to Build a Two-Bin Compost System

To build a two-bin compost system, gather the necessary tools such as a saw, power screwdriver/drill, and 1/8th inch drill bit for pre-drilling screw holes. Use untreated 2x framing lumber for eco-friendly construction.

Assemble the bins in a “U” shape with a middle section separating them for easy access. Add a lid or cover if desired to protect the compost from pests and maintain heat levels.

Necessary Tools

To build your own efficient two-bin compost system, you will need several essential tools. These include:

  1. A chop saw or equivalent for precise cuts on the required boards and lumber. Having a backup option like a circular saw or a hand saw is also beneficial.
  2. An impact driver or screw gun is crucial in assembling the pieces together securely. The power screwdriver/drill’s high torque aids in driving screws into dense materials without stripping their heads.
  3. A staple gun comes in handy for affixing chicken wire and securing hardware cloth to the frames. Using T50 staples ensures maximum hold.
  4. A tape measure for accurate measurement of spacing and size of each cut, leading to a snugly fitting compost bin structure.
  5. A speed square tool plays an important role in measuring perfect angles and straight lines while marking the lumber cuts.

Required Materials

Building your own two-bin compost system is a simple task that requires certain materials to ensure the longevity and functionality of the bins. To start with, you will need redwood posts, redwood boards, as well as dog-eared redwood fence pickets for the main structure of the compost bin. These provide robustness to the compost bins and guarantee long-term service.

Easy Steps to Construct the Bins

Building your own two-bin compost system is easier than you might think. Follow these simple steps to construct the bins:

  1. Gather the necessary tools: You will need a saw for cutting boards, a power screwdriver/drill, and a 1/8-inch drill bit for pre-drilling screw holes.
  2. Get the required materials: To build the compost bins, you will need untreated 2x framing lumber, screws (instead of nails) for assembly, and hardware cloth to secure the composting material.
  3. Cut the boards: Use your saw to cut the framing lumber into the appropriate sizes for your bins. The recommended dimensions are three rectangular frames made of 2-by-4 cedar boards.
  4. Pre-drill screw holes: Use the 1/8th inch drill bit to create pilot holes in each piece of lumber where you plan to install screws. This will prevent splitting and make assembly easier.
  5. Assemble one bin at a time: Start by attaching one side of each frame together using screws and then attach all four sides to create a rectangular structure.
  6. Add cross supports: To ensure stability, add additional pieces of lumber inside each bin at strategic points where they will not obstruct airflow or compost turning.
  7. Secure hardware cloth: Staple the hardware cloth onto each frame, making sure it is taut and securely attached on all sides. This will prevent compost material from falling out while allowing air circulation.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 for the second bin: Construct an identical bin using the same steps as before.
  9. Place bins in the desired location: Find a suitable spot in your garden or backyard where you want to set up your two-bin compost system. Make sure there is enough space around each bin for easy access and turning of compost material.
  10. Start composting!: Once your bins are constructed, they are ready to be filled with kitchen scraps, yard waste, and other organic materials. Remember to turn the compost regularly to ensure proper decomposition.

How to Use a Two-Bin Compost System Efficiently

Using a two-bin compost system efficiently is key to maximizing the benefits of this method. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your dual composting setup:

  1. Fill one bin completely before moving on to the next: To ensure a consistent compost harvest, it’s important to fully fill one bin with organic material before moving on to the second bin. This allows for proper decomposition and ensures that each batch has enough time to break down effectively.
  2. Alternate adding new materials: As you continue to fill one bin, alternate adding fresh organic material with partially decomposed material from the other bin. This helps maintain a good balance of green and brown waste, promoting faster decomposition and nutrient-rich compost production.
  3. Keep track of composting stages: Label each bin or mark them clearly so that you can easily identify which stage of composting each bin is at. By knowing where your compost is in terms of decomposition, it becomes easier to determine when it’s ready for use or when it needs additional time.
  4. Monitor moisture levels: Compost should ideally have a moisture content similar to a damp sponge. Check the moisture level regularly by squeezing a handful of compost from each bin. If it feels too dry, add water; if it feels too wet, mix in some dry carbon-rich material like leaves or shredded paper.
  5. Aerate regularly: Turn or mix the contents of each bin every few weeks using a pitchfork or shovel. This process helps introduce oxygen into the pile, promoting aerobic decomposition and preventing bad odors or compacted areas within the compost.
  6. Take advantage of dual space: With two bins, you have the opportunity to experiment with different methods or materials in each one. For example, you can try hot composting in one bin while using slow-cooking methods like cold composting in another.
  7. Use finished compost wisely: Once your first batch of compost is ready for use, spread it in your garden or use it as a top dressing around plants. Remember that compost is a valuable soil amendment and can be used to improve soil fertility and structure.

Benefits of a Two-Bin Compost System

A two-bin compost system offers several benefits:

– It provides a rodent-proof environment for composting, ensuring that pests do not disrupt the process.

– The dual space allows you to have multiple stages of composting, making it easier to manage and harvest nutrient-rich soil.

– Compared to commercial compost bins, a DIY two-bin system is customizable and can accommodate a larger volume of material.

– By using this system, you can achieve consistent compost harvests and create your own “garden black gold” for healthier plants.

Rodent-Proof Composting

Rodents can be a nuisance when it comes to composting, but with a two-bin system, you can easily keep them at bay. The design of the bins helps prevent rodents from accessing your compost pile and causing damage or spreading diseases.

By keeping the compost contained within sturdy bins made of untreated 2x framing lumber, you create a barrier that rodents cannot easily penetrate. This ensures that your composting process remains undisturbed and allows for healthy decomposition without any unwelcome critters interfering.

So go ahead and build your two-bin compost system confidently, knowing that rodent-proof composting is well within reach!

Dual Space for Composting Stages

With a two-bin compost system, you have the advantage of dual space for different composting stages. One bin can be used for actively decomposing materials, while the other bin can hold partially decomposed or nearly finished compost.

This allows you to separate different stages of decomposition and easily manage your composting process. By transferring partially decomposed material to the second bin, you create space for new organic waste in the first bin, ensuring a continuous cycle of nutrient-rich soil production.

With this dual-space setup, you’ll always have fresh compost ready to nourish your plants while still allowing time for proper breakdown and decomposition in the other bin. It’s an efficient way to maximize your compost-making ability and keep your garden thriving!

Comparing Two Bin Systems to Commercial Compost Bins

A comparison of a two-bin compost system and commercial compost bins can help you understand which one is a better fit for your composting needs. Each system has unique features and benefits.

Two Bin SystemCommercial Compost Bins
CostA two-bin system requires 11 pieces of 2x6x12 lumber and 1 piece of 2x4x12 lumber, making it cost-effective if you already have the required tools like a saw, a power screwdriver/drill, and a 1/8th inch drill bit.Commercial bins can be pricey as they come fully assembled and ready to use, but the cost includes the convenience of not having to construct anything.
CapacityEach bin of a two-bin system can hold at least 3 cubic feet of material, providing double the space for composting. This enables the collection of larger amounts of leaves, grass clippings, and plant cuttings.Commercial bins often have a smaller capacity and may not be ideal for larger gardens or yards that produce a lot of compostable waste.
AssemblyThe two-bin system requires some assembly. However, using screws instead of nails ensures a tighter hold over time. If you’re handy, this can be a rewarding project.Commercial bins are pre-assembled, making them easy to set up for those who prefer convenience over DIY projects.
DesignThe two-bin compost system is constructed in a “U” shape, with a middle section separating the two bins. It’s an open-top system, but you can add a lid or cover if desired.Commercial compost bins come in various designs. Some have a closed system which can be better for pest control, but they may not allow for as much airflow as the open-top two-bin system.

Your choice will depend on your personal preferences, the volume of compostable waste you produce, and the time and resources you’re willing to invest in the composting process.


In conclusion, building and using a two-bin compost system is a fantastic way to maximize your compost production and create nutrient-rich soil for your plants. With the ability to separate materials at different stages of decomposition, you can accelerate the process and increase your compost yield.

By following our easy step-by-step guide and utilizing the necessary tools and materials, you can take control of your own sustainable gardening practices. Start reaping the benefits of a two-bin compost system today by creating your very own backyard black gold factory.

Happy composting! Check out Journey to Conscious Living for more tips and tricks on your eco-friendly journey!


1. How do I build a 2-bin compost system?

To build a 2 bin compost system, you will need two separate bins that are at least 3 feet wide and deep. Create a base by laying down wire mesh or wooden slats to allow for proper airflow. Start layering your organic materials, such as kitchen scraps, yard waste, and leaves, in one bin, making sure to mix them thoroughly. Once the first bin is full, move on to the second bin and repeat the process. Rotate between the two bins every few weeks to ensure even decomposition.

2. What can I put in my 2-bin compost system?

You can put a variety of organic materials in your 2-bin compost system, including fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, eggshells, yard trimmings (like grass clippings and leaves), small branches or twigs (chopped into smaller pieces), and shredded newspapers or cardboard. Avoid adding meat products, dairy items, oily foods, pet waste, or any chemicals.

3. How long does it take for compost to be ready?

The time it takes for compost to be ready depends on various factors, such as the types of materials used and environmental conditions like temperature and moisture levels. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from several months up to a year for compost to fully decompose. It’s important to regularly monitor the progress of your pile by checking its texture – matured compost should resemble dark soil with an earthy smell.

4. How do I use the finished compost from my 2-bin system?

Once your compost is ready (dark brown/black with a crumbly texture), you can use it as a nutrient-rich soil amendment in your garden beds or potted plants by spreading a thin layer over the surface area or incorporating it into the soil. This will help improve soil structure, retain moisture, and provide essential nutrients for healthy plant growth. You can also mix the compost with potting soil to create a homemade organic potting mix for container plants.