Making your own compost is a fantastic way to reuse garden waste. Not only will you have less to take to the tip, you’ll also be creating a rich feed for your plants.
But to make great compost, you need a great compost bin. So how do you choose the right one?
That’s where we come in! We’re going to review seven of the best compost bins available online. We’ll talk you through their pros and cons. And we’ll look at how to choose one that will best suit your garden.
So step this way to find out more!
The Best compost bin In UK
The Best compost bin In UK 2021
1. 4smile 300-Litre Composter (Our Top Pick)
4Smile’s model is the least expensive solid-sided composter on our list. But you’ll still get a very decent capacity and some excellent features.
This is big enough to hold 300 litres of compost. It’s made from chunky black plastic, with a sliding door at the bottom in contrasting green. That provides an easy way of getting to your compost without disturbing the material on top that’s still decaying.
The dark colour helps to maintain the temperature inside the composter, keeping the process working at a good pace. And there are ventilation openings to keep the air flowing throughout the stack.
You’ll need to assemble this, but it’s a simple matter of clicking together the sides, top and door. The lid is the trickiest bit. That’s hinged, and clipping it in place has caused some people a bit of bother.
Once it’s in place, though, it’s a cut above other designs with lift-off lids. With this one, it’s easy to open and close when your hands are full. And you won’t need somewhere to put the lid while you’re filling it up.
There’s a clip mechanism to keep the lid shut, but it’s not particularly firm. That means you might want to add a brick to the top to make sure it stays closed.
Once assembled, it’s 60 centimetres square and 83 centimetres tall. The shape means it will fit snugly into a corner of your garden. And it weighs just under 5 kilograms, so it won’t be too heavy if you need to move it.
The plastic construction may not be the most attractive, but it’s plain and functional. And you won’t have to worry about it degrading in bad weather.
All in all, this is a great compost bin for a very reasonable price.
- Cost-effective option with 300-litre capacity
- Hinged lid makes it easy to open when your hands are full
- A sliding hatch at the bottom allows you to access your compost without disturbing the material on top
- Some assembly is required, though it’s all pretty easy
- The clip mechanism designed to hold the lid in place isn’t particularly secure.
2. Kangmeile Compost Bag
If you’re looking for a good value composter that requires no assembly at all, check out Kangmeile’s compost bag.
As its name suggests, this is simply a tarpaulin cylinder. It has a diameter of 35 centimetres and stands 60 centimetres tall. The lid is zipped in place, and there’s a hatch at the bottom to access the compost. That’s held in place with Velcro along three sides.
It’s not very big, with a capacity of about 100 litres. But if you’re looking to squeeze a compost bin into a small space, it will be ideal. It’s even compact enough to sit on a balcony. (You will, though, need to put something underneath to protect the floor.)
It’s made of PE plastic, so it’s very lightweight. When it’s full of compost, it will be heavy enough to stand its ground, even in high winds. But until then, you’ll want to keep it somewhere it won’t get blown around.
The zip-on lid will keep everything dry, but there aren’t any ventilation holes here. If you want to speed up the composting process, you could keep the hatch at the bottom open. And note that opening and closing the lid is a two-handed job, so do it before you collect your composting materials.
One thing to bear in mind is that the soft sides can be chewed through by rodents. You can avoid that by keeping meat and grains out of the composter. Decaying vegetable matter isn’t appealing to rats.
And because the sides aren’t rigid, they won’t stay upright before the bag is full. Some people use this as a storage bin for ready-made compost, in which case this won’t be a problem.
But if you want to cook your compost inside it, adding a few plant canes around the edge. That will allow it to hold its shape so the air can circulate.
- Compact design will suit small spaces
- No assembly required
- Very lightweight and can be folded away when not in use
- You’ll need to add plant canes or other supports if you want the walls to stay upright when it isn’t full of compost
- It will need to be kept in a sheltered spot to avoid it blowing about when only partially full.
3. Lacewing 373-Litre Wooden Composter
Lacewing’s wooden composter is a great choice for anyone looking for a traditional compost bin.
It’s essentially four wooden walls forming a square. You won’t need to grapple with a lid to tip in your garden waste. And the slatted design will allow air to circulate throughout the compost heap. Insects will be able to get in easily too. Their activity will also speed up the composting process.
The lack of a lid does, though, mean that the temperature won’t stay as stable as in enclosed designs. That means composting will take longer, particularly in the colder months. On the other hand, you will be able to easily get a fork in to turn the contents.
There’s no hatch at the bottom, which makes removing the compost more of a challenge. You can, though, remove the slats one at a time from the front or sides.
With this design, it’s best to wait until the whole heap has composted down before trying to remove the results. You’ll need to take the slats from the top first. That means it will be hard to get to the base of the pile without disturbing the material above.
Many gardeners using this design of composter will buy two of them. Fill up the first and leave it to compost while you fill the second. When the second bin is full, you can empty out the first, use the compost, and start again.
The bin is made of wood with a natural finish, so it will look good in your garden. And the timber is pressure-treated, meaning you won’t have to worry about wood rot for 15 years.
It will arrive flat packed, so you’ll need to assemble it yourself. That’s easy to do. We have, though, heard of a few cases where the wood has arrived damp. If that happens, leave it to dry out thoroughly before assembling. If you don’t, the swollen joints won’t fit together properly.
- Attractive and compact design
- The slatted sides allow plenty of air circulation
- The open top makes it easy to tip in materials and to turn the pile with a fork
- Composting will take longer than in a sealed compost bin
- No hatch at the bottom – it’s best to wait for the contents to compost completely before removing them in one go.
4. Gardening-Naturally 105-Litre Tumbling Composter
If you’re looking for a compost bin that will help you get your compost fast, check out this one from Gardening-Naturally. The bin stands on a frame, allowing you to rotate it and speed up composting.
The whole thing looks a bit like a black plastic cement mixer. The compost bin itself is hexagonal and is suspended in a plastic cradle. The lightweight construction means that it’s easy to turn, aerating the compost mix. There’s no handle – simply pull on the sides to rotate it.
Doing this will help the mixture in your composter break down much more quickly. You can expect to reduce the standard nine-week composting period to three or four weeks.
There are small holes through the body to keep the air flowing. And there’s a sliding door to add garden waste. Just rotate the bin so that the door is at the bottom to tip out the compost when it’s done.
One thing to note with this one is that the legs are made of plastic. That means they’re not the strongest – and if your composter gets very full, they can bend. And the capacity isn’t huge – 105 litres when full.
On the plus side, the plastic construction means the bin won’t corrode, no matter how wet or cold the weather gets. And the plastic is treated so it won’t degrade in strong sunshine either.
And the compact design means this will fit into smaller spaces. It measures 95 centimetres long and 60 centimetres wide and stands 84 centimetres tall. When empty, it weighs 5.6 kilograms.
You’ll need to assemble it yourself, but it’s very easy to do. All you’ll need is a screwdriver and about 20 minutes to complete the job.
- Rotating bin speeds up the composting process
- Covered design with air holes allows good ventilation whilst keeping the compost warm
- The sliding hatch can be positioned at the bottom to remove the compost when it’s ready
- The plastic legs aren’t as strong as they could be – they can bend if the composter is very full
- At 105 litres, the capacity isn’t as large as some other models.
5. UPP Rotating Composter
UPP’s rotating composter gives you the flexibility of two compost bins in one. Fill up the first and rotate it regularly to aerate the contents and speed up decomposition. While that compost is cooking, you can keep adding your garden waste to the second bin.
Each bin has a capacity of 105 litres. They’re hexagonal and can be turned independently of one another. There’s no handle, but it’s easy to do by pulling down on the sides.
A sliding hatch allows you to add material and empty out the composter when you’re ready to do so. Slide it into place and it will keep everything inside warm and dry as you rotate the contents.
Tiny holes in the bins allow the air to circulate. That will help keep the composting process running smoothly.
The frame here is metal, so it’s sturdy enough to hold the weight of the two bins. And it’s powder coated to resist rust.
The bins are made of robust plastic with a black finish to keep in the heat. They can be left out in all weathers, and are treated so they won’t be damaged by UV rays. And the plastic is made of 100 per cent recycled material. By buying this composter you’re avoiding materials going to landfill.
Although there are two bins here, this is still a surprisingly compact set-up. It measures 95 centimetres long by 60 centimetres wide and 82 centimetres high. And it weighs just under 11 kilograms.
You’ll need to put it together yourself, and we’ve heard varying reports of how easy this is to do. Competent DIYErs are unlikely to have any difficulties. It’s a one-person job, and the only tool you’ll need is a screwdriver.
But you will need to be able to identify the parts using the pictures, as they aren’t labelled. Some people have found this less simple than you’d imagine.
And although the frame here is metal, there’s still some side-to-side movement. If both bins are very full, you may find that the axle bends.
Avoid overfilling, though, and this is a very practical and easy-to-use composter. And it won’t take up too much room either.
- Incorporates two compost bins
- Rotate either bin independently to speed up composting
- Sturdy construction …
- … but if both bins are full, the axle may bend
- You’ll need to put it together yourself, and some people have found it a bit fiddly.
6. Rowlinson Beehive Composter
Rowlinson’s composter wins the prize for the most attractive compost bin on our list.
It’s made from wood with a natural finish and styled to look like a traditional beehive. It’s the most expensive option on our list by quite some way. But if you want your composter to look pretty as well as being practical, it’s a great choice.
All the wood comes from FSC-approved sources. The timber is pressure treated so you won’t need to worry about rot for years. You can expect this composter to give you 15 years of service before that becomes an issue. And painting it with a weather resistant finish will give you extra protection.
The gabled lid is hinged, with a handy prop to hold it in place. That makes it much easier to add waste to the composter without worrying about it falling back down.
And although this looks very solid, you can remove the bottom panel to get at your compost. And you can do so without disturbing more recently added material from the top of the pile. Note that there’s no floor though, so if you want to put it onto a paved surface, beware of staining.
It has a generous capacity of 328 litres, so you’ll be able to fit in plenty of garden and kitchen waste. It’s just under 74 centimetres long and wide, and stands 78.7 centimetres high.
There’s more assembly to do with this than with most other composters. It’s not a complicated design, but the slatted sides mean there are something like 40 pieces to put together. Expect it to take a couple of hours to do. A rubber mallet will make the job easier.
- Attractive beehive design
- Pressure-treated timber will withstand rot for at least 15 years
- Removable panel at the base allows you to access the compost without disturbing the top layers
- There’s no base, so if you want to place it on a solid surface beware of stains from the decaying matter
- The assembly process takes about two hours.
7. Blackwall 220-Litre Composter
Blackwall’s cone-shaped composter is a very economical option – and there’s virtually no assembly to do before you use it.
The wide base means it will stand firm in windy weather, despite weighing only 3.6 kilograms. And it’s finished in dark green to blend in easily with garden plants.
The standard model is open at the bottom, but a base is available separately if needed. That’s a good option if you want to position it on a paved area, as compost liquid can stain stones. It will also keep out rodents. A better approach to keeping them away, though, is to avoid composting meat or grain.
The composter is made of thick plastic, with a close-fitting lid. It will stand up to rain, frost or direct sunlight. The sealed unit will keep in the warmth generated by the decaying matter. And that will keep the composting process moving briskly along.
The lid needs to be removed by twisting and lifting, which makes it very difficult to do one-handed. But it does mean that everything inside stays warm and dry.
A removeable hatch at the front allows you to access the compost from the bottom of the pile. Clipping that into place is the only assembly you’ll need to do. But note that this is the flimsiest part of the construction. You may find the thinner plastic is vulnerable to distortion over time.
All in all, though, this is a simple, economical and effective compost bin.
- Finished in dark green to blend in with the plants in your garden
- Available with or without a base
- Requires minimal assembly – all you’ll need to do is attach the hatch
- The lid needs to be twisted as you lift it – you’ll need both hands to do it
- The plastic cover for the hatch is rather flimsy.
Are you still wondering which compost bin is right for your garden? If so, don’t despair! Just read on for a few simple factors to consider to make the perfect choice.
How big is big enough?
The composters on our list come in a variety of different sizes. A good first step, then, is to consider how much capacity you need.
Don’t buy an enormous composter if you don’t have much garden or kitchen waste to go into it. It will take too long to fill it up. And because composting is faster when the bin is full, it will take you ages to get your compost.
On the other hand, if you have a large garden, choose a bin with a bigger capacity. You don’t want to find your composter is full by the time you’ve mowed half your lawn!
Whatever size you go for, consider where you’re going to locate it in your garden. Lighter weight composters in particular will need a sheltered spot. So check the dimensions and make sure there’ll be room.
How fast is fast enough?
Are you happy for your composting to take as long as necessary? Or do you want to make sure you’re never too far away from a supply of fresh compost?
If you want to get your compost fast, a rotating compost bin is a great choice. Turn it a couple of times a day and you’ll keep air moving through the compost pile. That will dramatically speed up the time it takes to turn your garden waste into compost.
And look for options with ventilation holes or gaps between slats. That will keep a supply of fresh air flowing into the bin.
Composters with lids will also keep in the heat that’s generated by the decaying matter. That too will keep the process moving along briskly.
How practical is it for your needs?
Last but not least, consider how you’ll use your composter. Do you want to be able to turn the pile using a fork? If so, you’ll need a bin with a generous opening at a convenient height.
If your composter has a lid, do you want to be able to lift it one-handed? Do you have somewhere nearby to place the lid while you’re filling the composter? Or would a hinged lid be more convenient?
And do you want one composter or two? Some gardeners like to leave one composter full to decompose whilst they fill a second. That will ensure you’ve always got a fresh supply on the go. But it does mean you’ll need room for both. UPP’s clever dual-bin model manages this with an amazingly compact design.
Time to choose your new compost bin!
That brings us to the end of our look at seven of the best compost bins out there. Whatever your composting preferences, we hope you’ve found an option to suit you.
Our favourite is 4Smile’s practical composter. We love its generous capacity, sturdy, weatherproof construction and hinged lid. And it’s very easy on your pocket too.
But whichever compost bin is right for your garden, we hope you get a lot of satisfaction from using it. And we’re sure your plants will love the nutrient-rich results!