Compost tumbler makes composting easier

Compost tumblers belong to the new generation of composters, which have many advantages over traditional ones.

A Dual Chamber Compost Tumbler
A Dual Chamber Compost Tumbler

A traditional compost bin, as you know, has a base firmly placed on the ground and is by nature static.

When it is empty we can move it from one place to another in the garden, of course, but when it is full it certainly remains fixed in place.

The limitation of this type of composter is that it is quite difficult to move the waste placed in it.

In order to achieve good compost and prevent the mass of waste in the composter from rotting, it is necessary that the heap is well ventilated, as this is the only way to turn the waste into rich humus.

When the material in the compost heap rots, unpleasant odours arise, which are a sign that something is going wrong in the composting process.

In a traditional compost bin the materials that we add from time to time tend to create layers, layers that may not be homogeneous.


It can happen that a layer of fresh grass or sawdust is added to a layer of dry leaves.

These are all materials that have different decomposition times and if they are not mixed together properly they will never make good compost.

Perfect mixing of the materials is therefore necessary and can only be achieved with a rotating composter.

This compost tumbler takes the form of a rotating cylinder that can be turned manually with a lever on the side or, in the case of the cheapest composters, by turning the cylinder on a platform with rollers.

The material from which these rotating composters are made is usually polypropylene and, for the top-of-the-range compost bins, galvanised steel.

In both cases, these materials are suitable for the purpose, since they are almost impervious to atmospheric agents and, more importantly, must resist the chemical agents that occur inside during the composting phase.

The cost varies depending on the size and construction material, but is certainly higher than traditional compost bins: we are talking about a price range of 100 to 600 USD.

This is certainly a significant cost for the family budget, but it should also be considered that these composters, if used correctly, minimise the possibility of failure in compost production.

The rotation system underlying these new generation composters is also used professionally, whether for industrial composting or for entire apartment blocks.

Some defferencies among compost tumblers

The constant aeration of the material inside the drum ensures that no unpleasant odours are generated, which means that it can also be used in backyards close to the house.

It is important to rotate the tumbler daily, or at least once every three days, to allow the air to mix with the waste material.

For the rest, the golden rules of good composting apply: the material must be naturally moist, neither too wet nor too dry, and the right amount of water must be added to the compost every week if necessary.

The compost tumbler allows a considerable reduction in compost production time and, if the composting rules are carefully followed, in about four weeks (in warm weather) the compost should be ready for use.

The most professional (and expensive) models consist of two separate chambers so that the composter can be used without interruption.


In rotating composters with a single compartment, the accumulation of materials must of course be suspended until the optimal amount has been reached, and then the materials must be allowed time to degrade and turn into compost.

In composters with two compartments, the other compartment is loaded while one is full, without interruption.

What kind of compost tumblers are better: low or high?

As you can see among the various rotating composters, some models are mounted on a platform almost at ground level, others are mounted on steel structures that lift them quite high off the ground.

Both models have advantages and disadvantages, but the advice is to go for the ones that remain high enough.

The reason is very simple: once the compost is ready, simply open the door of the composter, place a wheelbarrow underneath the bin and then turn the bin to empty the compost directly into the wheelbarrow in one go.

In compost tumblers with a low structure, close to the ground, you can, at most, place a cloth under the cylinder in order to be able to collect the compost and, in others, you really have to roll the drum on the ground in such a way that part of the contents comes out at each turn.

I think there is no need to say that, for practicality and cleanliness, it is better to have the possibility of tipping the compost directly into the wheelbarrow, even if, when you go to fill the drum with the various organic materials, this operation will be slightly more tiring since the door of the composter will be at about shoulder level.

DIY Editor
Do-it-yourself enthusiast. I started with the renovation of my flat and then I changhed this passion into my job.