I recently made a compost bin. I simply drilled a bunch of holes on all sides of a plastic bin and was ready to go. I have been using it for a while now with it sitting flat on the ground. Should I be doing anything differently such as elevating it off the ground? Does this affect the amount of air the material gets? Does this affect the heat of the compost?

For anyone interested, I used this guide for building my own bin.

1 Answer 1


Do you have holes drilled in the bottom? You should -- these will allow excess liquid to drain out. If you have it elevated off the ground (e.g. by a couple of bricks underneath it), then you may get a little extra air via these holes.

I'm skeptical of the idea that small holes drilled into the sides of a large (15-30 gallon) container filled with compost will introduce much air into the center of the compost; thus I don't think it matters much if you have your container elevated.

Composting does depend on the microbes having adequate oxygen, but it will be much more effective to aerate the compost -- just shake the container as recommended in the article you linked, or stir it with a garden fork -- after it starts to cool down.

The only other benefit I could see to having it elevated off the ground is if you want to catch the leachate and use it as a liquid fertilizer. To do this, put down a catch pan, put a couple of bricks on the catch pan, then put your bin on those bricks. Whatever drips out of your bin will collect in the pan, and you can pour it off to use it on your plants.

  • 2
    Aeration and moisture are related: too much moisture, and the pile drowns. So in that sense, the holes are important for aeration, and keeping if off the ground may help with drainage. Otherwise, I agree - it's the shaking that will have to keep it aerated.
    – Ed Staub
    Jan 16, 2012 at 18:01
  • @EdStaub: Good point about elevating being good for drainage.
    – bstpierre
    Jan 16, 2012 at 21:04

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