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Two large timber compost bins in a back garden
Turn your food scraps and paper recyclables into liquid gold for your garden by starting your own compost bin, here’s how.

Your composting rundown

Did you know that most items destined for landfill can be transformed into valuable nutrients for the garden? Cardboard, newspapers, kitchen scraps, rotten fruit and vegies, grass clippings and fallen leaves can all go into a compost bin. What comes out is nutrient-rich, crumbly ‘garden gold’ that can be used to improve and enrich soil or potting mixes. There are many ways to compost and various systems to suit a space, no matter how big or small.

A garden of flowering plants bordering a lawn

Gedye compost bin

This enclosed bin is a simple but effective way to compost. It’s large enough to take most household and garden waste.

Tumbler bin

A raised bin with a crank or similar mechanism to allow you to easily rotate the unit and aerate the mix. Turn regularly to accelerate the composting process. 

Compost bays

The ideal solution for those with a large backyard and access to a large amount of garden waste and other materials. A little more physically demanding as it requires regular turning and moving materials from one bay to the next.

Bokashi bin

Keep this bucket-sized bin in the kitchen so you can easily add all food scraps and waste, including meat and dairy. This system isn’t a true compost bin as the materials don’t break down, but rather, with the help of bokashi microbes, the waste is fermented and helps accelerate the decomposition process. Once fermented, the contents can be added to the compost bin or buried in the garden.

A person mixing grass cuttings into soil in a compost bin

The magic mix

Compost bins need a good balance of nitrogen or ‘green’ waste, carbon or ‘brown’ waste, air and moisture for the process to be effective. Alternate layers of green and brown materials, top with a layer of cardboard of newspaper and give it good spray of water. Use a garden fork or compost aerator to fluff the mix weekly; this will help the waste break down faster. 

  • Nitrogen or green waste: kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, lawn clippings, leaves, aged cow or chook manure, disease-free plants, and tea leaves.
  • Carbon or brown waste: newspaper, cardboard, shredded paper, sawdust, vacuum dust, and egg cartons.

Things to avoid

  • Meat, dairy and bread (except in a Bokashi bin)
  • Weeds
  • Diseased plant material
  • Large quantities of grass clippings

Troubleshooting

  • My bin smells: there are too many wet or green ingredients; add dry or brown matter and use a fork or compost aerator to thoroughly turn the pile. 
  • Nothing is breaking down: the compost may be too dry. Add a handful of pelletised organic matter, give it a good soak and mix well. 
  • Compost is matted and clumpy: the compost is moist, and will benefit from being regularly turned. Add a small amount of dry matter if it’s more on the wet side.

Want a compost bin that blends into your garden?

Check out our D.I.Y. sleeper compost bin. Our easy-to-follow instructions will help you through the build. 

 

Photo credit: GAP Photos

 

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Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.