In which I DIY a compost bin to thwart the dog from eating garbage … again

Many of you know of the trials and tribulations we've faced concerning our basset hound and the compost pile.

It went from "dogproof":


To "dogtrap":


To "youhavegottobekiddingmehechewedthroughthefence" …

also known as *insert stream of profanity here*:


And then we digress to "Desperation":


And so? I was driven to dogproof this whole compost situation. Two challenges: a) it must be dogproof (duh) and b) it must be cheap. I don't exactly have $100 to spend on a fancy compost mulcher right now … I'm getting my HAIR DID next week! WOO! We must prioritize!

I did a little research and decided to go with a 30 gallon metal trash bin with a lid that I saw the other day at Home Depot ($22.95), like so:


While I was there I tracked down my favorite Home Depot garden center employee, Tim, (yes, I have a favorite Home Depot employee. I go there a lot) and quizzed him about the best way to transform this can into the compost bin OF MY DREAMS! He advised me to drill holes all over it to allow water to drain and sent me off to the tool section. He also told me that many people buy this type of bin to store dog food … so that the dogs CAN'T get it. The top fits on very tightly. WIN!

In the tool section, I was schooled on the finer points of drilling through aluminum: get a tiny drill bit and poke little holes first (or "pilot holes"), then get out a big daddy drill bit and finish the job. Sounds fine to me! Here are the bit sizes I bought (make sure you get ones that are ok for metal, btw):


(the sizes are 5"/32 [small] and 13"/32 [big] but I don't think it matters that much. Get a small one and a big one. The end.)

And then the fun begins! Just make sure to charge up your drill so you don't have to postpone your project an entire day. Not that I know from experience or anything. Ahem.



1. Drill your small holes. Press hard and make sure your bit is in your drill securely! I drilled holes in random spots all over the side and bottom.

1.2 Lots of holes on the bottom to allow drainage!

2. Let your kid use the lid of the can as a snack holder. This one time. Because it's clean. And how many times will a kid get to eat off a trash can lid? And isn't it nice to have a DISTRACTION?!

3. Go back over your holes with the big drill bit. YEAH! YOU'RE DRILLING HOLES! FEEL ALL FRUSTRATION LEAVE YOUR BODY!

Then when you're done, fill it up with your compost! I had plenty to fill my can. If you're just getting started, I recommend buying a bag or two of cheap topsoil and using that as a "starter" for your bin. When you add your compost (rotten veggies and peelings, used paper towels, dead plants, grass clippings, coffee grounds, etc … just NO WEEDS!), dig a little hole in the dirt, drop in your compost and then cover it. You'll also need to wet your compost down and stir it up every once in a while. Then when the food scraps have "disappeared" into the soil, just scoop it out and add to your garden. Your plants will be SO HAPPY! Also, if you'd like to keep your neighbors happy, position your compost bin somewhere on the back of your property where it won't stink up your neighbor's BBQ.

I also recommend having a sentry stand guard in case your dogs (or your friendly neighborhood raccoons) get any ideas.

And there you have it! A compost bin for about thirty bucks! And so far? Juicy has been unable to disturb it (although it seems to be his new mission in life to do so). I think he'll be thwarted … this thing is heavy as it is full of 30 gallons of compost! 


(for now)


7 thoughts on “In which I DIY a compost bin to thwart the dog from eating garbage … again

  1. Home Sweet Sarah says:

    This. Is. Awesome! I just sent the link to my husband…Maybe he’ll make one this weekend!

    (Not that I couldn’t do it myself, mind you, but I’m out of town this weekend and would like to get all my compostable items – which are currently sitting in a bin on my kitchen counter, ew – OUTSIDE.

  2. little miss mel says:


    So want to get one of these things started this summer.

    What about kids opening it and going through it? Any problems with curiosity yet? Since you open and close it often?

    And, how smelly is smelly? 😀

  3. Scott J says:

    Nice work Manda. I hope I would be one of your fav HD associates too. I work at the one in downtown Kansas City. I just stuffed your hubbie with some good KC BBQ. Thanks for loaning him.

  4. sally says:

    Girl, you make me really miss my composting. Every time I have compost goodies I want to bring or send them to you. Clever contraption. Now, let’s see how clever or strong Juicy is. Well, we do know the answer to clever, but not how strong.

  5. A'Dell says:

    Okay…please tell me what is so awesome about composting because all I’m thinking about is keeping a separate pile of yucky garbage in my kitchen and then having to touch it again to take it to compost bin.

    I really, really, really do not like touching garbage more than necessary but for some reason I am drawn like a moth to a flame to the compost bin roller thingy at Costco.


  6. K says:

    Hey- I found you through the Style Lush Blog. I have a basset too so I know too well about trying to keep one out of an area with food! My parents have a fenced in garden and she ALWAYS finds a way to get in there to feast on their corn and other delictibles.
    I hope the trash can compost works out for you!

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