9 Best Composter Reviews (Bin, Tumbler, Worm Composter)
If the grass seems greener on the other side of the fence, it might be because your neighbors are composting. Compost is an easy, low-cost way to improve your soil for a happier lawn and a more productive garden. Not only does composting create rich, healthy soil, it also keeps kitchen scraps and yard waste out of landfills. Whether you’ve been composting for a while or are just getting started, it can be hard to know which composter will be the best choice for your needs. We’ve put together the ultimate guide to composting and selecting the best composter to take the all the guesswork out of it for you.
If you’re new to composting, you may be wondering what it does and how to do it. Stu Cambell, author of the definitive composting book “Let it Rot!” describes composting as simply speeding up a natural process. The process really is that simple. You take organic material like food scraps, lawn waste, egg shells, and hair and put it together so it can decompose. This process creates a nutrient rich soil additive known as compost. To accomplish this, you simply need a composter or container, organic material, and some time for the material to break down. Heat and moisture help the speed up the process, and insects like worms can also contribute.
For a full explanation of how composting works check out this video from North Shore Recycling
Numerous items can be composted. The Environmental Protection Agency indicates that 20 to 30 percent of materials we send to landfills every year are compostable. To ensure your compost breaks down in a timely fashion and has all the essential nutrients that plants need, you need to make sure your compost includes a mix of green or fresh matter and brown or older materials. These items add nitrogen, carbon, and other beneficial nutrients to the compost. Some examples of items you can compost include:
• Fresh lawn clippings
• Vegetable and fruit scraps
• Food items (not meat or fish)
• Garden waste
• Dead leaves
• Coffee grounds and paper filters
• Shredded cardboard and paper
• Broken down twigs, wood shavings, and sawdust
• Peanut shells
• Egg shells
• Wool or cotton fabric or lint
Types of Composters
Composters come in many different styles, sizes, and can offer a number of various features. Even with all that variety, composters can be broken down into three primary types. Each type works in a different way to create compost.
Classic Bin Composters
This traditional style of composter is reminiscent of the old compost pile, but with several added benefits. These bins can come in a variety of materials and designs, but the basic principle is the same. You continue to add material to these creating layers of matter. The lower, older layers will turn to compost first, so you will need to be able to access the bottom of the container.
The advantages to bin composters are they require very little upkeep or involvement in the process. They are ideal for long-term compost projects like gardens and work well for anyone who wants to add material continuously.
The disadvantage of this style is it can take several months to produce compost. The process can be sped up if the compost is routinely aerated or broken up, but this requires more effort.
This type of composter does exactly what its title suggests; it tumbles the compost in a rotating bin. You add a batch of compostable material to the bin and then rotate it at regular intervals – usually daily or weekly. The movement adds oxygen to the material inside, speeding up the process. These composters come in many sizes with various methods of rotating the contents, including everything from smaller, rolling bins to larger, handle-turned set ups.
The advantage of tumbler composters is that the compost is ready much quicker. In fact, this style of composter can sometimes produce usable compost in as little as two weeks. They work best for people who need to produce batches of compost quickly.
The disadvantages of this style are that it requires more involvement in the composting process, and the batch process means you cannot add material until the current batch is finished.
Worm Tray Composters
This kind of composter uses worms to produce high-quality compost in a technique known as vermicomposting. As the worms naturally compost kitchen scraps and yard waste, they create their own waste called worm castings, which is a rich, organic material that makes plants thrive. Learn more about how vermicompost provides nutrients and prevents plant diseases from Cornell University’s award-winning research. Worm composters generally use stackable trays, with a new tray being added on top of the other as trays fill. The worms are able to move between trays as the material continues to stack up.
The advantages of this style are that you can continue to add material, the composting process occurs more quickly than bin styles, and the worms help control odors. This makes it ideal for smaller spaces or even indoor applications.
The disadvantages of worm tray composters are that you have to keep the worms alive for them to be successful. This means ensuring proper temperatures (generally between 40-80 degrees Fahrenheit) and material has to be added on a regular basis.
Which One is Right for You?
So how do you know which type of composter is right for you? You have to consider a few factors to determine which composter options best meet your needs. Check out our composter reviews below for the best recommendations. Some things you should keep in mind:
• Available Space – Composters range in size from smaller, indoor options to giant outdoor containers. Determine how much space you want to dedicate to composting before you begin shopping. If you’re an apartment dweller or have a small amount of space, you’ll want a more compact version.
• Processing Time – Tumbler and worm tray composters produce usable material faster than traditional bin versions. If you need smaller batches of compost produced more quickly they would be a better choice.
• Time and Involvement – Various models of composters will require different commitments from you in terms of time and effort. If you don’t want to be very involved in the process than a classic bin or option where you can just toss in scraps and let it go might be better for you.
• Extras – There are lots of extra features that may or may not matter depending on what you’re trying to do. Some options, like liquid collectors with spigots, are very useful if you’re nourishing a garden, but won’t be as useful if you’re doing the whole lawn.
• Start-Up – The model you decide on will have different start-up related activities and expenses. Again, you need to decide what you want to do. Some versions require a lot of assembly and can be tricky to work with, while other options are smaller but come fully assembled. Also, worm tray composters require an initial investment in worms and bedding materials.
Best Composter Reviews
Algreen Soil Saver | Best Classic Compost Bin
This classic bin composter has all the added features you need to create a traditional compost pile but boasts several helpful modern features. It has a large opening on top making it easy to add or even shovel in new material. The locking lid keeps pests out and everything inside secure. It features a self-watering system that allows moisture and air in through the lid, which improves the composting process, being a thick, heavy-duty construction that will stand up to wildlife and the elements while keeping heat trapped inside.
This compost bin also has two sliding doors that make it easy to get the bottom layer of finished compost without digging through upper layers. It also has a wonderful open bottom design that will help you attract worms to improve your compost quality naturally. It comes with an instructional booklet that is perfect for beginning composters.
Bosmere K765 | Wire Compost Bin
This wire bin is as simple and straightforward as it gets. Made of heavy-duty, plastic-coated steel wire, it will definitely stand up to the elements and the test of time. It lets you control your compost pile, keeping everything in one place, but keeps everything out in the open, letting nature take its course. The design will attract natural worms from underneath adding their assistance to the composting process. It allows a lot of airflow too, which means the compost has the oxygen it needs.
This open air design prevents odors from building up too, meaning less smell associated with your outdoor compost. The design is not pest proof, however. If rodents are an issue in your area, you may need to augment its set up to provide some protection, or avoid throwing fresh food scraps into the bin. It was very simple to set up, holds up to 100 gallons of material, and features a door for easy access to the lower portions of the pile.
Leisure Season CB2730 | Wooden Compost Bin
This wooden compost bin looks really nice and completely hides its purpose. The slats are placed perfectly to allow lots of airflow but prevent compost from falling out. It has a full cover too which keeps pests out but doesn’t restrict rainfall or airflow from helping the mix. The open-air design helps prevent smelly odors from building up, and worms can get in through the bottom to help your compost out naturally. It is constructed of hardwood from the Cypress tree family which stands up to the elements, and it has been stained for extra durability.
This thing will probably outlast your deck. It has a pull out door that makes it easy to get to the finished compost at the bottom, so it is easy to use too. Assembly is required so expect to spend some time getting everything put together before you can begin to use it.
Yimby Tumbler Composter | Best Compost Tumbler
This tumbler composter boasts a unique two chamber design, giving you the ability to compost the full chamber, while still adding material to the second bin. This gives you the benefits of continual and batch composters all rolled into one. Its heavy-duty design is made from recycled plastic and features adjustable air vents. This means it holds heat well and lets you optimize airflow for a faster turnaround on your compost. In fact, it can produce usable compost in as little as two weeks.
The 37-gallon capacity means you can make larger batches than other similar space saving models. The built-in hand holds make it easy to turn the bin, and the sliding door makes it convenient to add materials and remove finished compost. It comes with full instructions and is fairly easy to put together although the bin and the stand both require some assembly.
Spin Bin Composter | 60 Gallon Compost Tumbler
This large composter holds up to 60 gallons, making it one of the largest on our list. If you have a lot of material to compost, and you want an easy to use model than this is the composter for you. It has wide openings at each end that can easily accommodate a shovel. The lids are made to stay put, which protects the bin from rodents and pests, and helps maintain the moisture level inside.
The interior is ribbed and features a center bar to improve mixing when the container is being spun. Its rugged exterior is dark in color to maximize heat absorption, and it has multiple ports so you can check the temperature without getting into the compost bin. With its superior airflow and mixing, it produces compost quickly and efficiently. The biggest issue is fully unloading the bin from the bottom takes some work as it has very low clearance.
Envirocycle’s Most Beautiful Composter in the World | Best Compost Tumbler
Not only is the composter nice to look at, but it works really well too. It is solidly constructed with quality materials and will stand up to the environment and any pests or animals that might want inside. Its design is unique and pleasant to look at so you won’t mind having it in the yard. It has a small footprint too, so it is a great option if you don’t have a lot of space.
One of its best features is that it arrives fully assembled. You can literally just put it in the yard and get started. It has built-in drain plugs too, which allows you to collect the nutrient rich liquids to use on your plants or lawn before the compost itself is ready.
It also lets you use the liquid to moisturize the compost if you prefer. The grooves on the sides make it really easy to turn too. Because of its vents and drains, this composter can also be used with worms to speed up the process and add nutritious vermicompost to the mix.
This is another great, small composter that will fit in just about any yard or deck space. Its dark color and construction attracts and holds heat to help speed up the process. Its low profile makes it ideal for people who don’t want a composter that sticks out or gets blown over in high wind. It boasts a wheeled base too, so you can relocate it easily if needed. It works efficiently and can deliver batch compost in as little as two weeks.
The 12-inch lid gives you plenty of room for adding materials or removing your compost. The lid twists on making it extra secure. There are holes for ventilation, but the only way to customize them if you’re not getting enough airflow is to drill them out more. Still, this shouldn’t be a problem unless your area has very low air movement.
Worm Factory 360 Compost Bin | Best Worm Composter
This worm tray composter is truly top of the line, and it comes with everything you need to get started – just add the worms. The four tray design can expand to hold eight trays giving you extra volume if needed. It doesn’t take up much space, and the design coupled with the worms helps prevent odors so it can be used indoors too.
It has a bunch of special features packed in that make it ideal for use, a collector tray and spigot for draining that lets you access nutrient-rich liquids even before your compost is ready. The lid serves a dual purpose and can act as a stand for the trays when you’re harvesting the compost. The kit comes with the worms’ bedding materials, rock dust, tools, a vermicomposting guide, and easy to follow instructions, so it is ideal for beginners.
With five stackable trays, this worm-based composter allows you to create a lot of compost in a small space. It can be expanded to seven trays if needed. It’s specially designed lid that allows optimal airflow and moisture, which keep the environment comfortable for the worms. The airflow and moisture are also ideal for speeding up the composting process. For its size, this is one of the most efficient composters out there.
Once the worms are in and you’ve gotten the material started it’s a really low maintenance bin. You just add material and trays as needed. The worms migrate to the bins full of fresh food making it easy to harvest the compost from the lower bins. The bin is designed to work both outdoors and indoors.