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You could throw the grass cuttings and leaves from your cordless lawn mower into the council’s green bin and lob all your kitchen veggie cuts into the food bin. Or you could buy one of the best compost bins and produce your own nutritious organic matter for the borders and pot plants.
Aside from saving a small fortune in compost bags from the garden centre, a compost bin also saves space in your council’s green bin and you won’t need to make so many trips the council tip either. In other words, composting helps save the planet and that’s the best excuse of all to buy one.
This revolving 189-litre compost bin comes with a sturdy lid to keep fruit flies and other pests at bay and an internal aeration bar that mixes the decomposing vegetation while promoting natural air flow.
Made from high-density polyethylene affixed to sturdy powder-coated steel legs, this bin should last for many years. It’s easy to use too. Simply revolve the cylinder towards the large hatch and throw in your vegetation. Periodically roll it over using the locking nut to hold it in any position. The rolling action mixes the contents up and allows the user to access the good stuff lower down.
This is one of the more stylish propositions when it comes to compost bins which aren’t usually the most attractive of garden paraphernalia. However, be prepared to spend a couple of hours assembling it because it requires a lot of tool work and, at times, two sets of hands.+Simple design+Lower hatch for collecting compost-Looks like a Dalek
If you just want a bog-standard compost bin capable of containing a substantial 220 litres of decomposing vegetation, consider this classic Dalek-shaped plastic model. The Blackwall is available in dark green or black and comprises a tight-fitting lid and a front hatch that’s wide enough for a trowel or small-bodied spade.
Measuring in at 100cm in height with tapered dimensions of 70cm at the bottom and 50cm at the top, this model is as standard as they come. Simply load in your dead vegetation, close the lid and after a couple of months the bottom section should have decomposed sufficiently to be used as good-quality compost. Just make sure you’re happy with its location because once it’s full, there’s no budging it. At around £65, this model is among the cheapest on sale and it does the job of composting extremely well.+Attractive design+Looks like a beehive-Not good for smaller materials-You have to build it yourself
By their very nature, compost bins aren’t the most attractive of garden products but this one is. Made from 15mm pre-treated kiln-dried fir slats, the Easipet is designed to look like a beehive which means you can leave it in full view of the conservatory and not have it tucked away out of sight.
This model measures 74cm in width and depth and 80cm height and has a capacity of approximately 328 litres, making it a great choice for medium-sized gardens. Despite the appalling instructions, assembly is pretty straightforward and involves slotting it all together and fitting the roof hinges.
Since this model is slatted and the gaps between each slat are quite wide, we would avoid filling it with small vegetable scraps and stick to leaves and other larger garden cuttings that won’t fall through the gaps, spoiling the appearance. For maximum success, also be sure to locate it in an area that receives some sunlight.
Once the compost is ready, simply undo the hatch at the bottom and scoop some out. Granted, the over-abundance of air circulation won’t produce the very best compost but if you’re not too pernickety, this model is far and away the most sophisticated looking option even if it is a bit flimsier than the image suggests.+Tough materials+It rotates+Highly efficient-It's a lot of plastic
Here’s a robust rotating compost bin that will never corrode because it's almost entirely made from plastic. Consequently, it’s not the prettiest bin we’ve ever seen. This tumbling model has a capacity of 105 litres so it’s on the small side but still perfect for urban and cottage gardens.
It measures 81cm in height and 61cm in width and features a rod and fin mechanism within that breaks up large clumps of plant matter while providing excellent aeration. A rotating bin of this nature makes it much easier to turn the compost every few weeks and ensures good quality compost without too much effort.
At a shade under £70, this is great value compost bin that easy to assemble and a doddle to use. Sure, it’s not the most fashionable thing in the garden, but it does the job and does it well.+Cheap to buy+Large capacity-Ugly design
Got a medium to large garden and require around 300 litres of never-ending compost production? Try this 83 x 61cm block of plastic. Yes, it’s ugly with a capital U but it’s got a huge lidded portal and a large bottom access hatch that lifts off to accommodate a standard shovel.
This one simply clicks together and comes with ventilation openings for excellent air flow. Mind, it doesn’t have a base so it needs to be placed directly on earth so Mr Wriggly the earth worm can get in to start his wondrous work. Give him and his mates a few months and they’ll have helped produce some of the earthiest compost you’ve ever had the pleasure of sniffing.
How to make good compost
When making compost, it’s essential to find the right balance between green and brown vegetation. Green vegetation like lawn clippings, green leaves and vegetable food provides nitrogen, while carbon-rich brown vegetation like dead branches, dried leaves, bark, coffee grounds and brown paper bags produce energy. When a good balance is achieved between the two – ideally one-third green and two-thirds brown – great compost is produced. In a nutshell, if your compost is too damp or soggy, add more brown vegetation and if it is too dry, add more green. It’s also a good idea to locate the bin where in can enjoy some sunlight.
Do not compost meat or fish products because they will attract rats and other pests. And besides, do you really want the stench of rotting meat wafting over to the barbecue area or worse, spoiling your chill-out session in the hot tub?
When starting a compost heap, try and alternate moist (green) and dry (brown) garden and kitchen waste so the compost can breathe. Thereafter you can throw in whatever green or brown material you have to hand.
If you’ve made your own compost collector using a wooden frame, cover it with wood or plastic sheeting to retain moisture and heat which are both essential ingredients for top-quality compost. Also turn the compost every few weeks to aerate it or it may become too slushy and horrible to handle. A rotating compost bin like the two we review below makes this task a lot easier.
Looking for some other garden items? Then be sure to check out T3's other gardening guides to the best garden sprinklers and best garden watering systems.