Last updated on January 31st, 2022
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Compost bins offer a fantastic way to convert garden waste and kitchen scraps into what gardeners call ‘black gold’. This finished product is then used in the garden as a natural fertiliser to grow plants, fruits and vegetables or simply as a valuable addition to the soil to improve the nutrients in borders.
There are several composters on the market these days and choosing the best compost bin for your garden can be confusing. If you are one of those people who don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. We review the top-rated compost bins for the UK market including their pros and cons and give recommendations regarding their ideal households. If you’re a first-time buyer, you will find a comprehensive buyer’s guide herein with all the info you need to pick a good compost bin.
In a hurry? Below is the winner of ‘our best pick’, the Envirocycle Composter, which produces both solid and liquid compost (compost tea). This product is extremely durable and an ideal size for a standard family.
Our top 7 compost bins and tumblers that we have reviewed and compared:
- Envirocycle Composter – BEST PICK
- 4Smile 300 Litre Garden Composter Bin – RUNNER UP
- Selections 190 Litre Heavy-Duty Garden Tumbling Composter
- Good Ideas 140 Litre Twin Chamber Tumbling Composter – BEST PICK FOR SMALL GARDENS
- Whitefurze 220 Litre Compost Bin
- Blackwall 220 Litre Composter Convertor
- Draper 07212 180 Litre Compost Tumbler
TOP 7 Compost Bin Reviews
1. Envirocycle Composter – Produces Both Solid and Liquid Compost
The Envirocycle Composter is an innovative, all-in-one system that comprises a compost tumbler drum and compost tea maker bottom, allowing you to enjoy the best of both worlds in the form of solid and liquid compost, similar to that you get from having a wormery.
The whole thing is solidly built from food-safe, BPA and rust-free, antioxidant and UV-protected materials so it can withstand the UK elements outside. It weighs around 12kg and the version we are talking about is the smaller 65-litre composter, although you can go even larger with the 133-litre option if you want one that is a little bigger. There are three air vents that allow optimum airflow whilst the drum’s door has an interlocking design to keep the lid tightly shut.
This tumbler is ready to use out of the box because it doesn’t require any assembly. The enclosed drum is great if you want to keep the composter on your balcony or patio and thanks to the compost tea collecting bottom, you can harvest excess liquid from the drum as compost tea. This kind of ‘tea’ is a magnificent liquid fertiliser to use on your plants and lawn, something you cannot get from normal compost bins.
- Extremely durable tank constructed from food-safe, BPA-free, rust-free, antioxidant and UV protected materials.
- Capacity: 65 litres.
- No assembly required.
- Makes both solid and liquid fertiliser.
- 3 air vents.
- More expensive than other models on the market
Yes, it is a pricey compost bin, however, when you consider the ability to produce both solid and liquid fertiliser, the no-assembly design and the excellent build quality, this Envirocycle Composter might be well worth the hefty price. It’s a robust, weatherproof bin that will withstand many years of outdoor use and is a sizeable option for a family of four.
2. 4Smile 300 Litre Garden Composter Bin
The Eco Compost Converter is a number bestseller, and for a good reason. Firstly, we love how it is easy to assemble without using any tools at all. It comes flat-packed with the small parts protected inside the larger components and all you have to do is put the panels together, these easily click into place within minutes. The assembled composter is strong and the fact that it forms a square shape makes it practical, fitting neatly in the corner of your garden. Its grey/green colour also blends in well with your surroundings.
Another thing that stands out is the hinged lid, which gives you an easy time placing your green waste into the bin. It as well prevents essential heat from escaping whilst keeping pests out. Accessing ready compost is also easy thanks to the removable hatch door located at the base of the bin. The large size of this composter is a big plus, which can take up to 300 litres of water. Its weatherproof plastic design protects against external elements, including unnecessary rainwater and the effects of sunlight.
When it comes to performance, this composter is miles ahead of its competitors. It effectively transforms all sorts of organic waste into compost without leaving any horrible smells around, whether you feed it with crushed eggshells, dried leaves, grass cuttings, vegetable scraps and coffee grounds. And all of that service comes at a decent price.
- Large capacity; holds up to 300 litres of organic water.
- Made from a weatherproof plastic material.
- Integrated hinged lid.
- Hatch door.
- Size (cm): H83 x W61 x D61.
- No catch on the lid so it could be blown open by strong winds
- Plastic is weak and could start disintegrating at the bottom
What greatly appeals about this 300Litre compost bin is the ease of assembly; it’s simple and quick. The large capacity of the bin is also something to boast about. We recommend the 300-Litre Garden Eco Composter for use in homes with heavy garden waste, people who are not so keen on assembly and have a smaller budget.
3. Selections 190 Litre Heavy Duty Garden Tumbling Composter
EASY TO MOVE AROUND THE GARDEN
This tumbling composter has an easy-to-use design thanks to the wheels that let you transport it around the garden whenever necessary. This implies you can prepare your compost in one spot and move it directly over to your garden to purge it out, which is far simpler than dumping it into a wheelbarrow or wagon then transporting it. The horizontal rotating drum also adds to the simplicity and it needs less effort to tumble. A removable front hatch is available to give you access to ready compost.
The frame material is heavy-duty stainless steel that not only provides a great amount of strength but it’s also resistant to rust. The drum features 90% recycled plastic material making it environmentally friendly. It holds a maximum of 190 litres of material and the manufacturer recommends turning the tumbler regularly after every 2-3 days. Of course, that depends on the outdoor temperature. Its level design additionally allows even air circulation in order to speed up the composting process.
It comes flat packed with a total weight of 10kg and requires home assembly. Simple DIY skills can get this composter set up in less than an hour and the box contains instructions to help you along the way. It looks sturdy and promises to last a long time.
- Drum material: 90% recycled plastic.
- Frame material: stainless steel (heavy duty).
- Capacity: 190 litres.
- Removable front hatch.
- Manufactured from recycled plastic.
- Requires home assembly.
- Dimensions: 99.5 x 79 x 90cm.
- The lid can be a bit tricky to engage correctly.
- You may need an extra pair of hands when assembling this composter.
- Can be a bit too heavy for some individuals to be able to turn, and could, therefore, do with some grab handles.
This Tumbler by Selections is another spectacular tumbling composter that is ideal for turning organic garden waste and kitchen scraps into rich compost. The ability to move it from site to site is the major selling point here.
4. Whitefurze 220L Compost Bin
READY TO USE OUT OF THE BOX
The Whitefurze 220L comes ready to use with no assembly issues and it takes up a large number of leaves, grass cuttings, fruit and vegetable scraps, amongst other organic materials. We love the removable lid design with an easy-grip handle. You can deposit all sorts of material into the bin effortlessly and rest assured the lid stays put against harsh winds. The windproof lid is also essential in regulating temperature and moisture levels inside the bin.
There’s a removable front hatch that allows you to access and remove ready compost. Made from recycled materials, the Whitefurze 220L is one of the toughest compost bins on the market designed to stand the test of time in harsh weather conditions. We also found out that managing this guy is quite easy thanks to its portable design. You can shift between different spots in your garden without too much hassle.
Whilst not many people might prioritise the actual shape of a compost bin, it does matter when it comes to stability. We think the Whitefurze 220L’s cylindrical design, with a broad base, offers a large ground surface area and therefore, minimises the chances of toppling in case of external disturbance.
The robust construction helps insulate the heat and that helps the micro-organisms break down waste to produce nutrient-rich compost. Trapping the heat means quicker compost, so despite the fact that it might mean extra weight; sturdiness is an important aspect to look for when shopping for a compost bin.
- Made from recycled materials.
- Ready to use – no assembly required.
- Built tough.
- Removable lid with easy-grip handle.
- Windproof lid.
- Removable front hatch.
- Volume – 220L
- Dimensions: 70x75x84cm.
- Built tough but isn’t the most durable.
- The walls are thinner than expected.
Considering the Whitefurze 220L gets to work straight out of the box, it’s a great compost bin for first-time users. Also if you have a lot of trees in your garden, this can be the best buy to handle the tons of leaves from late September to early November. However, the way it’s a bit flimsy doesn’t add up to its price.
5. Blackwall 220L Composter Converter
GREAT SIMPLE DESIGN
Made in the UK from recycled plastic, this composter is ideal for the recycling of garden waste and kitchen scraps. The package weighs about 3.6kg which we don’t think is that heavy and the box contains 1 composter converter, 1 push-fit lid and 1 front hatch. There’s a full user guide in the box that experts can easily work without, however, beginners might need to take a look at it. This composter doesn’t require any assembly and is quite easy to fill with garden debris.
The Blackwall 220L Composter Converter is relatively large and robust. Its green colour blends in amongst the green foliage in most gardens. We recommend that you locate it in a plot of soil where worms can enter from underneath because there is no bottom to the bin. Worms do help in composting food scraps and other organic material but there are always fears of harmful worms. So there is a separate base that completely prevents vermin, which you can purchase at an extra cost. However, if you opt to use the separate base and perhaps place the bin on hard ground, you’ll need an agent to break down the compost.
The recycled plastic composter is UV stabilised to counteract degradation. It gives a secure environment for composting whilst retaining heat and moisture levels. The lid is stiff and the chances of blowing off in wind are almost zero, plus it’s a convenient lift-off design for easy access and cleaning in between loads. The hatch is extra wide for easy harvesting from the bottom of the pile.
- Needs no assembly.
- Removable extra wide hatch.
- Comes with a full user guide.
- Made from recycled plastic.
- Push-fit windproof lid.
- Carbon footprint certified by the Carbon Trust.
- British made.
- Dimensions: 74 x 74 x 90cm.
- Comes without a base. It would have been better if a base was supplied rather than it being sold separately.
- May be difficult to empty fully because the inside of the base isn’t flat.
- The push-fit top is also quite hard to take off which some people may find frustrating.
The Blackwall 220L composter is a great bin; with no assembly, robust construction and easy access to compost, it’s easy to see why over 3,000,000 bins have sold to date. After research on its performance, we think this composter is ideal for garden and vegetable-based food scraps.
6. Draper 07212 180L Compost Tumbler
Raised compost tumblers take composting to a whole new level and the Draper 07212 is such a revolutionary composter. This tumbling composter has a unique action that speeds up the entire composting process. Basically load it with kitchen scraps (avoid meat products), garden prunings, grass clippings and tumble the bin consistently every 2-3 days.
It’s produced using a lightweight polypropylene material that is known for low density (weight saving), heat resistance and high stiffness. The 180L tumbler is held above the ground by a frame that has a lock and pivot points. One advantage of above-ground composters over ground composters is the assurance that air and moisture are uniformly distributed by the tumble action. Plus, being off the ground keeps the composter away from rodents.
The barrel has twin-ended access that can be used for filling and harvesting, plus there is an air circulation/drainage hole around the top. Draper Tools has specialised in producing innovative products and they have made an asymmetrical and ergonomic design for this tumbler to enhance its easy use. The tumbling action generally prepares the compost within 6-8 weeks.
- Made from lightweight Polypropylene material.
- Double-end access.
- Symmetrical design for easy use.
- Faster decomposition – 6-8 weeks.
- Tumbling action speeds up composting process.
- Size: 80 x 80 x 48.4 cm.
- Packaged weight: 10kg.
- The circular lids can be difficult to open, especially when wet.
- May take a while to assemble the tumbler.
- Heavy to turn when fully loaded.
The Draper O7212 Compost Tumbler is a nice bin and it does take like half-hour to assemble, despite the assemble in minutes sticker. It would have been nicer if it had wheels underneath it for the easy movement of the finished compost to the flower bed or farm. Still, it works great and delivers quickly. It better suits light vegetable scraps and garden waste.
7. Good Ideas 140 Litre Twin Chamber Tumbling Composter
BEST PICK FOR SMALLER GARDENS
With a packaged weight of 9kg, this Twin composter by Good Ideas is the lightest tumbling composter on our list and amongst the lightweight composters on the market. However, this weight is a sacrifice for the less capacity the twin composter holds, 140 litres combined, but it’s still enough to convert unwanted waste into useful compost. The small size of this composter means it takes up little space in the garden and is perhaps a brilliant idea for smaller gardens.
It’s easy to assemble at home following the instructions provided, a process that takes roughly 45 minutes. There’s even a video on Youtube on how to set it up in case you need a visual aid. It has a unique rotating action that accelerates the entire composting process and it’s not heavy to turn, unlike the other tumbling composters we’ve reviewed. The barrels have ventilation/waste openings to boost productivity. It’s advisable to tumble the bin after every 2-3 days for uniform decomposition and the compost should be ready in a matter of 6-8 weeks.
Another thing you’ll love about this composter is the heavy-duty construction, including the tough stainless steel frame. It can serve all year round without signs of wear. Its symmetrical design also makes it easy to turn without having to bend that much, even your children can do this for you.
- 140-litre capacity; each compartment holds 70 litres.
- Comes with assembly instructions.
- Robust construction for use throughout the year.
- Built-in aeration to speed up composting process.
- Size: 79 x 61 x 82 cm.
- Due to its smaller size, this tumbling composter is limited to smaller gardens.
- You may experience issues during assembly which will slow down the process.
This tumbling composter is relatively small, which is both an advantage and a disadvantage. This will be an excellent buy if you own a small garden. You can still purchase it if you have a large garden but you realise you’ll have to do so much work composting a large amount of waste. Our research also found that this Twin Chamber Tumbling Composter is the easiest to twirl whilst it’s also somewhat expensive.
Compost Bin Buyer’s Guide
It’s important to know that there are two types of composters designed for heavy-duty action – compost bins and compost tumblers. These two types work incredibly well at composting garden waste yet there are notable differences. Knowing the attributes and benefits of both will help you arrive at the proper composter that suits your needs.
Here are the notable differences:
- Volume: Compost bins are generally larger than tumblers. They usually hold anything from 150-600 litres but that depends on the model. Due to their large size, they take longer to process compost than tumblers. You can accelerate the process by mixing things up with a pitchfork, yet most people don’t find the mixing process attractive. On the other hand, compost tumblers range between 100-400 litres. This is on account that the tumbler drum can be hard to spin under heavy loads. You might still find a large volume compost tumbler that’s easy to rotate, especially the ones mounted horizontally on their axis.
- Footprint: Both compost tumblers and bins take up almost the same ground area in the garden. A standard composter will take around 4-6 square feet. Bins are usually stationary because most of them have an opening at the bottom. Most tumblers are also stationary but it’s common to find some with wheels to move the unit around. Some designs can roll on the ground and this allows the ready compost to be discharged directly onto a particular site.
- Composting Time: Compost tumblers have a fast composting process due to improved air circulation and good heat retention. Our side-by-side comparison found out that under normal circumstances, the tumbler completed the process almost half the time of the bin. Bins usually hold more volume which somehow accounts for their slower compost processing. The process especially slows down considerably in winter. The tumbler, however, sends up a fog of warm air when opened in winter, implying that the composting process is still active. When a composter is rotated, fresh materials mix with the more composted materials. This has an impact of slowing the process down to some extent. A twin bin composter becomes a game-changer on that note because fresh materials are filled in one chamber whilst the second compartment is finishing off. Moisture levels also affects the composting process. Moist garden waste such as wet leaves, fresh grass clippings or vegetable scraps should be balanced with dry contributions. In such a manner, compost bins have an upper hand because they are open-bottomed – they deplete excess water promptly. There are tumbler models that have drain holes in the drum, and furthermore a collection chamber in the base to get the compost tea which is superb manure. It’s important to understand that the key to improving the composting time depends more on the carbon/nitrogen ratio and keeping up a damp (not wet) moisture level than the type of composter being used.
- Functionality: Compost bins are not by any stretch of the imagination built to make work easy for gardeners to mix or turn the materials. Sometimes it’s even difficult to use a pitchfork and get deep into the heap and mix it effectively. And when it’s time to harvest, it can also be hard to scoop the ready compost, even with the help of a shovel. The compost at the base is usually packed by the weight of the materials above and when attempting to get a shovel via the port, you risk chipping the sides of the port. However, compost tumblers are intended to make it less demanding to mix the compost because you only need to turn the drum a couple of times a week. This is the focal component of tumblers and it speeds up the composting process. In any case, turning a compost tumbler is not generally simple, especially when dealing with larger models – the unit gets heavy when about 3/4 full. This is particularly the case with vertically-mounted drums. Compost tumbler physics has it that horizontally-mounted drums are quite easy to turn, even when almost full. When it comes to compost harvesting, compost tumblers have an advantage over bins. A wheelbarrow will be significant when emptying a tumbler – just move it directly underneath the drum and dump compost right in.
- Toughness: Compost tumblers are intensely built because they should be sufficiently solid to hold the full weight of the materials. In this regard, they tend to be more durable than compost bins. When shopping for a compost tumbler, assess the supporting legs and the focal pivot connection, they ought to be tough enough to hold up to years of use. On the chance that handles are provided for turning the drum, be certain they aren’t shaky. Compost bins are constructed using thin plastic because they just need to contain the composting materials instead of supporting the weight. The thin plastic tends to become fragile in cold weather, excess exposure to sunlight or even after years of use. You need to be careful when removing the top and when discharging finished compost from the lower parts as the plastic can chip or crack with heavy use.
- Vermin Control: Both compost tumblers and bins do a good job with regards to keeping nuisances away from the compost. Compost tumblers are completely pest-proof because they are entirely closed. This also ensures the ground around the drum remains tidy at all times. With compost bins, raccoons and puppies have zero access inside, yet rodents can tunnel from beneath and even nest inside because of the encouraging ground warmth plus food being within.
- Odour Control: Both compost bins and tumblers control compost smell. When you open the cover, there’s a distinct composting smell that comes but it’s not too unpleasant. However, when the top is shut, you shouldn’t expect any foul odours coming from the composter, whether you are using a tumbler or bin.
- Cost: Price can sometimes be a deal-breaker for many good things. Generally, compost bins are cheaper than compost tumblers, about 40% lower in price for the equivalent capacity. When shopping, find a composter that has the best features in terms of size, functionality, durability and others that will suit your needs.
What type of compost bin is best?
The choice is between a tumbler and compost bin, and each has its own pros and cons. Tumblers are designed to be rotated regularly, mixing the materials and thus speeding up the composting process. With a compost bin, you’ll need to turn the contents manually using a shovel, pitchfork or compost aerator and this is a rather tiring task.
In terms of capacity, compost bins are typically larger than tumblers, making them ideal for bigger households. The reason for the weight difference is that tumblers need to remain light enough to be rotated. So the bins produce much greater yields of natural gold, though at a slower rate.
Tumblers also shine when it comes to durability because they tend to be heavy-duty. They have solid legs that hold them together with contents above the ground. Expect to pay more for a tumbler than a compost bin too.
Do compost bins smell?
Not really. Compost bins control odours pretty well. Obviously, there is a distinct composting smell when you open the lid. Once the lid is closed, there should be no bad odours coming from the composting process.
Should compost bins have a bottom?
It’s a matter of preference. Bins are usually open-bottomed so that organisms that facilitate composting can move from soil into the compost. As the contents break down, they release nutrient-rich moisture into the soil beneath and the surroundings. Whilst you can scoop finished compost from the pile sitting directly on the ground, the task would be back-breaking. However, having a solid bottom can make it easier to collect the compost.
What should you not put in compost?
The list is very long but let’s name a few: meat and dairy products, baked goods, treated sawdust, citrus fruits, oily and greasy food, pet and human waste, plus many more.
Meat products, for instance, attract pests and will definitely cause odours. Greasy food can mess with the ecosystem in the bin whilst citrus fruits and their high acidity levels can kill the good bacteria that help in decomposing materials. And who wants to open the bin and what comes out is the smell of human waste! Yuck!
In short, you want to keep the compost as natural as possible, with things such as grass clippings, tree leaves, vegetable food scraps and vegetarian animal manure.
Should I add worms to my compost bin?
Not necessarily as native earthworms usually find their way into an open-bottomed compost bin. There’s still nothing wrong if you want to add a few worms, particularly red wigglers, as they can speed up the decomposition process.
Where is the best place to put a compost bin?
Find a level, well-drained area in your garden. For the easy depositing of kitchen scraps, place it accessible to the back door. During the cold season, keep it in a sunny location to trap solar heat, though there should be some shelter to protect the pile from freezing cold winds. In the peak of summer, look for a shady spot so the contents don’t dry out too quickly. Make sure to build the compost bin over soil rather than asphalt or concrete in order to take full advantage of earthworms.
How long does it take for compost to be ready to use?
There’s no fixed duration as it really depends on the conditions inside the compost bin. Compost can be complete in 2 months but can even take a year. For faster results, however, chop larger materials into small pieces, deposit wet material into the bin to maintain a certain level of moisture (not soggy) and turn the contents after about every two weeks. The pile must be large enough to preserve heat too.
There is just a great satisfaction that comes from making your own compost. Not only do you recycle food scraps and garden matter, but you also help reduce all the waste that goes to landfills. We hope this guide has been helpful in your search for the best compost bin and that we have answered some of the pressing questions about compost bins.
Below are our top recommendations:
Our Best Pick
After a thorough comparison between our select models, we concluded that the Envirocycle Composter is the winner. The composter is made of BPA-free, rust-free and UV-resistant materials that give it the toughness to stay outside in any weather. Its 65L capacity is decent but if you need more, there’s an option of a 133L version. The selling point, however, is that you will be able to manufacture both solid and liquid compost at home.
If you find the Envirocycle Composter to be too expensive, the Garden Composter By 4 Smile is a great alternative. Moreover, it offers a massive 300L capacity, it is made from weatherproof plastic and is a doddle to assemble.
Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API