The Best Location for Compost Bin and Areas to Avoid

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Compost provides black gold for your plants. Your backyard is seldom complete without a compost pile. But what troubles most people is deciding the best location for the compost bin. The best location for your compost bin is as close to where you will use the compost.

Ideally, a compost bin should be placed in a well-drained, semi-shaded area with easy access to the kitchen and unobstructed to other areas. Traditionally, compost bins are placed in a spare corner of the garden. It should be easily accessible but far enough where occasional smells and leaching liquids, called leachate, do not interfere with your daily activities.

A level ground with good drainage and some sunlight can make the perfect location for your compost bin. If you place your compost in a very cold place, it will slow the composting process. The ideal location can make all the difference in the quality and rate of composting. Choose an area that suits your specific needs while at the same time working efficiently.

 Tips for the Ideal Compost Bin Location

Compost bin

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You will need to consider various things when setting up a compost bin. These tips will help you establish your compost pit well right from the start.

The Right Temperature

Consider the right temperature when choosing a location for your compost bin. A cold place will slow down the decomposition process, so consider a place that gets some sunlight, especially during the year’s cold months.

On the other hand, a spot that gets too much sunlight can dry out the compost bin. This may require you to water your pile of compost regularly. Therefore, select a spot that receives sunlight during the day and lays in the shade at other times.

A compost pile needs a well-balanced moisture level to work optimally. The decomposition process works well when the pile is moist and warm.

However, remember that the main source of heat in a compost bin is microbe activity, and that’s why compost bins are designed black. 

Avoid Windy Areas

A windy location will dry out your compost bin and hinder composting. This will make you water your compost pile regularly, something you would want to avoid. On the other hand, your pile should always be humid, so choose an area with windbreakers. These windbreakers can either be natural or artificial.

Ease of Access

Your compost bin should be located in an area convenient for you. For example, place it near the kitchen, so it is easy to put the composting kitchen waste. Also, choose a spot within a comfortable distance from the house. It may discourage you if you need to walk a long distance to get to your compost bin, and you may stop tending to your compost.

Ensure that you can comfortably access your compost pit with a wheelbarrow, which is the easiest way to move your garden waste.

Avoid Placing the Compost Bin Under a Tree

Although you might be tempted to place your compost bin under a tree due to its shade, it is not the best place. The tree’s roots are constantly seeking out nutrients and water. If you place your bin under a tree, its roots will grow toward the compost heap and may cause problems.

Put the Compost Near Your Plants

Put compost bin near your plants

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Compost is dense and heavy. You want to carry it only a short distance when it is ready for use. Place your compost bin near your plants to make it easier to move the finished compost there.

Consider a Working Space

In addition to leaving space for a wheelbarrow, you need a space to work in front of your compost bin. Compost needs regular mixing for it to give you the best results. Leave space in front of the bin where you can easily turn and remove the compost.

This space is also crucial when emptying the bin of the finished compost. The ideal space is twice the size of the compost bin. It will allow enough elbow room when turning and aerating the compost. It will also provide enough space to move and rebuild the compost bin next to where it was sitting.

Avoid Putting the Bin Against the House

A good compost bin should not smell or attract flies and rodents. But if it becomes unbalanced, these things may appear. And when they do, you will be glad that the compost bin is not near your house.

Position your compost bin at least 10 feet away from your house. This will prevent you from getting unwanted visitors into your house.

Consider a Level, Well-Drained Location

Well-drained area

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You need a reasonably level ground that is well-drained for your bin. This is more important if you are using an open-bottomed bin. Your compost bin should not stay in a place with too much water but in a place that keeps it moist. It will stink if your compost sits for too long in stagnant water.

Your compost bin should sit directly on the soil, so that any liquid produced during decomposition drains away. Sitting it directly on the soil will also help the microbes and earthworms come up from the soil below and help compost. Avoid putting your bin on paving or hard surface.

Leave Room for Growth

Some keen gardeners who want to take gardening seriously may consider setting up multiple bins. You may use the additional bins for a specific kind of waste. If you have the space, leave some room for expansion. Alternatively, you can use a three-bin composting system to manage large amounts of waste materials and have your compost at various composting stages.

Place It Near a Water Source

You will need a water source near your compost bin or within a hose’s reach. In addition, moisture is required during the decomposition process, and you may need to sprinkle some water on your compost bin at different times of the year.

Moisture levels vary within the year depending on what is in your pile and seasonal changes in temperature and humidity. If your compost dries out, you will need a water source to help you water it.

Do not put your bin near a natural source of water. Composting may create some nitrogen run-off that can contaminate natural water systems.

Consider Your Neighbor

Compost can become unbalanced and create an unpleasant odor. Consider your neighbors when choosing a location for your compost bin. Leachate, flies, and visual appeal are some of the things that can make your neighbors complain. You should consider this if you still want a good relationship with your neighbors. More so if you live in a suburban area with neighbors nearby.

Visual Appeal

Compost pile

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Do you dislike the sight of your compost bin? You can hide your bin in your backyard if you choose not to see it. For example, you can use a privacy screen or place it behind some vegetation to hide it. 

Compost Bin Location in the Kitchen

You can comfortably place your compost bin in the kitchen and get your compost for your plants easily. The majority of people are concerned about bad odors. However, you should get a compost bin with a tightly-fitting lid to prevent smells from leaking into your kitchen.

The best location for your compost bin is where it is easy to use. Some of the places include the following:

Under the Kitchen Counter

Storing the bin under the counter gives you easy access and reduces odor. Some bins can attach to the cabinet door and have a chain that automatically pulls off the lid to give you a hands-free experience.

Under the kitchen sink is the perfect spot if you want to do worm composting. This is because it is quiet, warm, and secure.

Clear Plastic Compost Bin

The clear plastic compost bin is ideal if you have a deep drawer in your kitchen where you can tuck it in. You can also line this drawer with plastic or metal inserts to transform it into a bin.

You will remove the insert when emptying the bin or cleaning it.

Counter Compost Bin

A counter compost bin is best if there are few people in your household, say one or two. It is also ideal if you do not have a lot of waste. Finding one that matches your deco will be even better because no one will notice it. This is the best compost bin that will give you a constant supply of nutritious compost for your houseplants.


The best location for your compost bin is where it will compost fully while offering convenience. Consider all the above-suggested tips to find the best place for your household.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Location for Compost Bin

Compost heap

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The majority of people are at crossroads when it comes to the location of their compost bins. Some of the questions people ask when planning the best place to put a compost bin are answered here.

Should the compost bin be placed in the sun or shade?

When your compost bin is in the sun, the compost will be ready sooner because the warmth accelerates the decomposition process. However, it should not be exposed to too much heat because this will make it dry out. If the bin compost dries, sprinkle some water to keep it moist.

If you place it under a shade, ensure that it gets occasional sunlight for proper decomposition. Sunlight is not the main source of heat in the composting process, but the microbes. In addition, the shade is ideal for preventing your compost from drying out.

How much space does a compost bin need?

Consider your neighbor

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The size of your compost bin is related to the size of your yard or the size of the vessel available if you use a compost tumbler. Since you will be depositing organic matter from your household, its size is generally proportional to your property.

If your yard is small, you will have fewer dead plants, leaves, clippings, and weeds. However, when starting your compost heap, it is difficult to estimate its eventual size as the materials gradually sink as the base decomposes.

Once you understand the rate of your compost’s decomposition, you can estimate the space you need for composting. This space will be relatively constant yearly. Add 6 to 8 inches on two sides of the space you estimate. This will give you enough elbow room when turning the pile.

How big should a compost heap be?

The size of your compost pile will depend on whether you want a simple compost bin or a big setup. It will also depend on how much organic material is available. If you are still determining either of these parameters, you can start by choosing a site in your yard that can easily be added to if you decide to upgrade your operation.

You can start with simple worm bins. However, Composting is a very satisfying endeavor, and you may not want to stop once you stop. So, keep this in mind and allocate enough space if this excitement kicks in.

The ideal location with expandable space would be near an existing related area like the kitchen or greenhouse. For example, your household could already have various utility areas, plastic recycling bins, old flower pots, garden carts, etc. These places are ideal locations for your composting system.

Can you put compost bins on concrete?

Open-ended compost bin

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It is only advisable to put your compost bins on a hard surface or concrete if it is your only option. When it rains or during winter, your compost bin will not drain well and will become too wet, hindering the decomposition process.

To minimize this wetness and waterlogging, leave a bit of a gap below your bins to allow excess moisture to drain out. You can also add lids or plastic sheeting during the wettest months of the year.

When you place your compost bins on concrete, they will lack access to microbes, composting worms, and other beneficial insects found in the soil. Therefore, you may need to jumpstart your new compost with existing compost that already has these factors.

Therefore, the best place to put a compost bin is bare earth, so you get the benefits of the living things in the soil. Compost will stain the concrete, and you may need to use a pressure wash to clean it.

How Far Should You Place Your Compost Bin From the House?

If your compost material is mostly made of household waste, you can consider a distance of at least 10 to 12 inches away from your house. This will give it enough distance to prevent reptiles and rodents from accessing your house.

Also, keep your compost heap at least 12 to 18 inches away from your foundation. This will allow proper airflow and minimize the chances of the moisture attracting termites that can damage your house.

However, if your waste is mostly made of yard materials such as leaves and grass, you can put it nearer your house. They do not produce a foul smell. Compost should have an earthy smell like a garden or forest soil when correctly done.

 Featured Image Credits: Unsplash

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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