The Cadillac of Compost Bins

There are compost bins, and then there are AWESOME compost bins.

PHOTO: Chicago Botanic Garden carpenters Andy Swets and Brian Flood.
Chicago Botanic Garden carpenters Andy Swets and Brian Flood

When carpentry supervisor Andy Swets got the call to build a better bin in the compost area at the Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden, he pulled out all the stops: 2x4s, 2x6s, and 4x4s in Western red cedar…reclaimed 1x4s…stainless steel exterior-rated handles and latches…heavy-duty hinges…and 20#-rated hydraulic-assist lifts that open and close the lid noiselessly and safely.

The resulting 36-inch-square bins are terrific looking and solidly built: constructed with half-lap joints and routed slots, sloped in height from 40 inches to 28 inches for easier shoveling, and finished with plugged screw holes and a hinged front door for easy access.

PHOTO: Andy Swets routing a wood frame for a compost bin.
Carpenter Andy Swets routs a side frame for the compost bin. Slats will fit in the routed channel, separated by 1/2-inch wood block spacers, promoting air circulation.

Andy and assistant carpenter Brian Flood didn’t just build one—they built a set of three, the better for kids to lift the lids and compare how compost ages over time.

While kids love peeking into the bins (and throwing their banana peels in), we’ve noticed that adults are admiring their design and construction—so we’re posting this video of Andy and Brian in full construction mode. Get inspired—build the compost bins of your dreams!

©2013 Chicago Botanic Garden and

Published by

Karen Z.

Karen Zaworski is a writer who likes to use as few words as possible, a photographer who still works with black-and-white film and a darkroom, and a gardener who actually likes to weed.

4 thoughts on “The Cadillac of Compost Bins”

  1. beautiful compost bins…and love the quality & work ethic you two young men display!
    Do you have plans/dimensions you might be able to provide for these bins? I’d like to build several for my home vegetable garden!

    Northbrook, IL

    1. We don’t have written plans, but the measurements of one of the completed bins is 36″ wide by 37.5″ deep. Height is 39″ in back sloping down to 30″ in front. The door in front is 28.5″ wide by 26.5″ high. Hope that helps!

      1. Julie,
        thanks so much for the measurements…I was at the gardens yesterday afternoon, but could not locate the bins. Do you know what area or garden location they’re located at? The video stated “Childrens Garden” but I couldn’t find it! Any idea?

        thanks again


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