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Thursday, 19 April 2012

A 3-Tier Composting System

Charles is obsessed with composting. I mean, obsessed. If he dares find something biodegradable in the garbage he gets upset and usually at me because I’m the slacker haha. Luckily as a result of his OCD we barely ever have any actual garbage but we do compile a lot of recycling and a ton of compost.

We needed something big and something cheap to tackle our compost solution so we decided to turn to pallets! We also came up with a 3-tier system for our compost pile  meaning 3 separate corrals to collect all our waste. One corral will be for the current composting pile, then once it’s full we fill up the second one so the first one can actually break down. The 3rd corral is for all our mulch – leaves, grass etc.

We came up with our system by doing a bit of research; we particularly turned to here and here for a lesson on composting. We also found this handy list for what one can and cannot compost, you’d be surprised by all you can compost, even dryer lint! Then we turned to Young House Love’s tutorial here for how to create a basic pallet compost.

After we did our research we went on a hunt for our pallets which a local furniture store allowed us to take off their hands for free. We frankly couldn’t believe it; these pallets are actual hardwood plus their blue! We were pretty psyched! We collected 7 of these. If you’re only building a singular corral however you’ll only need 3.


Then while Anna played in the yard Charles got to work measuring and clearing up where we wanted our pallets; we wanted to make sure we had enough space in the back to plant some bushes later as well as room to be able to easily rebuild our fence. Charles marked off where each pallet would go with rocks.



We wanted our pallets on “clean” soil so that there wouldn’t be grass and weeds growing up into our compost pile, at least not to start off. We also wanted the pallets to be sunk into the ground a little so Charles got to digging.


Wooo the first pallet in place! Due to the indent Charles made for the pallet to sit in it actually stayed propped up nicely all by itself.


Then of course Anna had to investigate what papa was working on.


Luckily we have some really nice neighbours who were watching Charles sweat it out trying to tear up the ground and they sweetly loaned us a wheelbarrow and a pickaxe which allowed Charles to really go to town.


Oh ya check out those sexy man arms. Charles thought I was just taking this picture for myself, he later asked “That’s not going on your blog is it?” Well you bet it is, rawr! Those three pallets were just standing up in place all by themselves, we didn’t want to fully attach anything until all 7 of our pallets were in place.


Taa dahh!! Our 3 tier system! Now we just had to rig it all together.


In order to get that job done we used two 1x4’s each of which were 6 feet long. You could probably use one 16 foot length but we had only gotten 12 foot lengths.


Then we got to drilling! The problem was the pallets were somewhat uneven and we had to lift sections of the pallet while drilling in the screw to be able to properly attach our 1x4. Because the pallets were so heavy I couldn’t successfully do the job so Charles pre-drilled the screws then set me to work. This was my first time ever using a power drill!



Oh ya check out that action! I was pretty proud of myself, it was quite lame hahaha.


Finally we got both our boards attached! Getting to this point took us about 2 afternoons; being that it was Easter weekend we had other prior arrangements to attend to which caused this project to be much more drawn out. We were originally wondering if we’d need an additional form of support but these bad boys weren’t going anywhere! Here you can also see we did leave a nice amount of space between the fence and the compost pile to allow for some fun landscaping.


All that was left was levelling out our compost bins and filling them up which took part of a 3rd day. Here’s the final result! We were going to place a small board in front to keep the contents from spilling out but since we had a ton of huge rocks that we had dug up we just used those instead and they’ve been working quite nicely.



Of course we still have to plant grass seed in front, and eventually we want to lay down a little walkway to them but it’s progress and now we have more than just a hole in our yard to gather compost so we’re quite excited about them! Oh and don’t mind those extra 1x4’s on top of the bins, we just forgot to move those.

Do any of you have a 3 tier compost system? Or what about a pallet/homemade compost in general? I’d love to hear about it!


  1. LOVE! I am a little neurotic about composting too :) So at the moment I have a "heap" system going on in my backyard. Let's be honest... it looks terrible. I have pallets though so I should do this asap! I'd be interested in seeing how it works for you! So fun...

    1. Hahaha yes I hear you on that heap system, our pit was just terrible and we always had crows and dogs gathering around it like something died bahaha. You should definitely jump on the pallet bandwagon :)

  2. I've been meaning to start a compost box/heap/something soon! We just moved from a teeny apartment in NYC to our big house in the woods and we definitely have room to start composting now. I'll keep you posted on how it goes!!

    1. Oh that is excellent, congrats on the move! You guys must be super excited! Best of luck with the compost :D

  3. Nice.. Love the 3-tier composting idea.. Emailing your idea to my mom. :) She'll definitely get some nice tips from this! Thanks for linking up at friday fun party.. :)

    1. Thank you and thanks for hosting! I hope your mom enjoys it!