Difference between a Compost bin and a Compost Tumbler

What is the difference between a Compost Bin and a Compost Tumbler?

Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. Adding compost as manure to your soil gives you a healthier garden with greener plants, gorgeous flowers, and increased yield. The best part of composting is that as long as you can save your family’s domestic waste and turn them into compost, well, you get all the benefits at no extra cost.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the information you’ll find online on composting, but it’s actually pretty simple to know just what the difference between a Compost bin and a Compost Tumbler is because the answer is in the name, A tumbler tumbles and a bin well is just kind of a bin! compared to Compost heaps and piles which have been used widely but in my opinion can prove to be a bit of a hassle, especially since you might not have the space on your property.

Also, your neighbors will probably NOT be okay with it. Who can blame them? Compost can get really smelly and attract pests, rodents, and critters. So, if you live in a more urban area, you can easily get started with Compost Bins or Compost Tumblers in your house with no stench and rodent issues to worry about.

Lets look at these in more detail below:


Major differences between compost bins and compost tumblers

As you must have already noticed, there are certain similarities between compost bins and compost tumblers and they are both aimed at achieving the same results. However, there are also a lot of differences between them. A knowledge of these differences will help you to make an informed decision on which system is best for you.


Composting time

Due to the fact that compost bins tend to be bigger, they should have faster composting times. However, the smaller compost tumblers with their rotational abilities sort of balances that out by increasing the speed at the materials are decomposed. Thus, compost tumblers can produce compost faster than compost bins. This can also be attributed to the better aeration, enhanced heat generation, and enclosed design of the tumblers.



Compost bins are typically larger than the compost tumblers. Most compost bins can hold compost ranging from 5 – 20 cubic feet while compost tumblers range between 4 – 15 cubic feet. Compost tumblers are smaller because it can be difficult to rotate when it contains large loads, and forceful handling can cause damage. However, no matter how large the load is in compost bins, it can be turned with a pitchfork or shovel, although this might be a bit difficult.



 It’s the compost tumblers that make your life easier since the design of the compost bin makes it quite difficult to mix the composting materials. Due to this difficulty, most people with compost bins tend to leave it unturned, resulting in less aeration and ultimately longer decomposition time. So, in terms of functionality, I’d say the compost tumblers have an edge over the bins because they’re easier to work with, and you only have to turn them a few times a week. Also, due to the open system of the compost bins, heat tends to escape excessively whereas the closed system of the compost tumblers develops more heat. Heat is necessary because it speeds up the decomposition process.



Compost tumblers are made with stronger materials because they have to be able to support the loads they’re filled with. Also, you need to make sure the legs are strong enough to hold it up at all times. Compost bins are made of thinner materials since they are essentially needed to contain the compost rather than support any actual weight. This thinner material usually becomes brittle after years of exposure to the elements, as opposed to the more durable compost tumbler material.


Pest control

Compost tumblers completely eliminate the issue of pest invasion because of their closed-off nature and their distance from the ground. Compost bins, on the other hand, may prevent attacks from larger pests (such as raccoons) but rodents and other critters that can burrow underground tend to find their way into the pile. However, if rats don’t freak you out, you’ve got nothing to worry about on that front.



Compost tumblers (obviously) are more expensive than compost bins, but they are stronger and more durable so that particular pro outweighs the con.


Odor control

Both compost bins and compost tumblers are good at odor control as long as the lids are shut. The only time things get really stinky is when you’ve added inappropriate quantities of certain ingredients such as cheese and meat. However, compost tumblers better at dealing with the odor in those particular cases.



Compost tumblers are more complicated to assemble than compost bins, which usually just involves snapping parts together. However, that shouldn’t deter you. You can actually have a good time DIYing with your friends or family, or you could ask the vendor of the compost tumblers to do the assembling for you.


Moisture balance

It is critical to maintain an appropriate moisture level without making the compost soaking wet. In any case, the moist products such as wet leaves or kitchen scraps need to be balanced with the dry materials. Due to their open-bottomed design, compost bins are superior in this regard since they easily drain excess water. However, you have the option of getting a compost tumbler with drainage holes, in which case you can place a bucket under the compost tumblers and collect the excess water.



Compost bins are structures or containers used to pile compost materials as well as house them in preparation for the garden. Composting takes time, but the process can be sped up by using compost bins that are designed to hasten decomposition through sufficient moisture retention and adequate aeration. This produces an ideal environment for the activities of micro-organisms which are essential to the creation of compost. Compost bins also help to prevent pests from getting into your compost.

Compost bins can be commercially purchased or homemade. They can be fashioned from just about any material you can think of including lumber, ceramic, plastic crates, wire mesh, stone, wood planks, cinder blocks, pallets, decorative bricks, cardboard boxes, straw bales, and the good old garbage cans.

Compost bins are stationary structures or setups into which your domestic waste or scraps go to make compost. They require you to mix the products with your hands, shovel, pitchfork or one of those T-shaped turning tools T-shaped which you can use to lift and turn the compost. Another alternative is to lift the compost bin and place it next to the heap and then shovel the compost from the heap back into the bin.

Most compost bins come with a lid or removable covers for easy access and turning. They are also pretty inexpensive to purchase and can easily be homemade. Compost bins are mostly built to be open-bottomed which lets worms in to help in the decomposition process. However, this has the unfortunate consequence of also letting in rats and other critters that are able to burrow underground to get to it. However, it’s still a far cry better than the old method of simply piling a heap of compost material in the backyard, which gives pests unlimited access and also creates a stifling odor.

Another downside to composting in bins is that turning the compost is not as easy as it sounds. It can be a lot of work and can discourage a lot of people from composting. As numerous as the benefits of composts are, a lot of people tend to avoid doing this because most compost piles/heaps they see are rather unkempt, emit unpleasant smells, and serve as a breeding ground for rodents. However, proper composting ethics massively eliminates that problem. And that brings me to compost tumblers.


What EXACTLY is a COMPOST Tumbler?

Tumbling is an ingenious technique of composting that improves the aeration and temperature of the compost through enhanced turning. It a simple, easy process that gives the added benefit of closed container composting.

Compost tumblers are structures used for recycling kitchen waste to form compost for garden use, which is basically what compost bins do. However, they are closed systems that can easily be turned to mix the composting ingredients within. Some compost tumblers are stationary whereas others have wheels, which make transporting the compost easier.

Compost tumblers, just like the compost bins can be homemade or store bought at your local gardening shop or online. You just need a little bit of research to know which one suits your needs before purchasing.

The rotational abilities of these tumblers help to speed up the composting process and require less work, all aimed at making the job easier for every gardener. There are also tumblers which are built lower to the ground on which you can use your feet to tumble.



And there you have it! All you need to know about compost bins and tumblers. I hope you can be able to make an informed decision on what suits you best. Remember, composting in bins is great for people who want to compost on a large scale while still being economical. Composting in tumblers won’t get you a huge amount of compost, but you’ll get a ready stream of compost in a short time if you can’t handle the physical process of turning with a shovel.

Happy gardening! Here’s to wishing you a healthy and beautiful gardening experience this season.


  1. Compost. Maximum Yield. https://www.maximumyield.com/definition/27/compost
  2. Compost Bins: What They Are Used for, How They Work. The Spruce. https://www.thespruce.com/compost-bins-and-how-they-work-2131027
  3. Compost Tumblers. Earth Easy. https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/compost-tumblers/