Where to Put Your Compost Bin?

By Larry Hodgson

There is no particular season for installing a compost bin: you can do it in spring, summer or fall, even winter in areas where there is no snow. But there are preferences as to where to place it. Here are a few:

It is better to install your compost bin…

  • In an easily accessible place, but not too visible. Compost may be valuable, but it’s rarely beautiful!
  • On a flat surface in a well-drained area.
  • On soil, if possible, to allow easy access to microbes, earthworms and other detritivores and so that any leachate (“compost juice”) can drain out freely. 
  • At least 3 feet (1 m) from any openable window. Now, normally, compost doesn’t smell and if it does, that’s easy enough to correct by better balancing the brown and green matters (read Home Composting: The Right Ingredients for more information on that subject). But do you want to really endure bad smells while you balance the compost?
  • Preferably more or less in the sun, as the sun’s rays will help warm the compost, stimulating faster decomposition.
  • But not in intense sun, easily in hot, arid climates, because the compost may then dry out too quickly and require additional watering.
  • Far from any enterprising tree roots that can invade the compost and “steal” its minerals.

And especially:

  • At a certain distance from the edge of the property to avoid any complaints from neighbors*.

*I made the mistake once of placing one of my compost bins right up against the property fence and my neighbor bitterly complained about the foul odor emanating from it. The problem was, there was no compost in it yet! The last thing a laidback gardener wants to do is to start a turf war with a neighbor, so I simply moved the bin. 

Good composting!

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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