How Far Should The Compost Pile Be From The House?

Composting is a drawn-out process, requiring quite a bit of work. Between monitoring pH levels, maintaining proper moisture, turning the pile, and keeping the temperature within range, you have your hands full. But the first parts are easy, right? How hard can picking a spot for the bin actually be?

Surprisingly enough, placement can be a major factor in how successful your bin will be. There are quite a few things to consider, so stick around to learn more!

How Far Should My Compost Bin Be From The House?

If possible, you should place your compost bin at least ten feet from your home. Decomposing food scraps attract all sorts of bugs, so having it next to your house could be problematic. Keep the bug attractor at a safe distance from your home (Who wants loads of bugs in the house? Not us!).

On top of that, your compost bin might become imbalanced from time to time. When this happens, the bin may emit an unpleasant odor. If the bin is right against your home, these scents will waft into your home when you open doors and windows. 

When everything is balanced as it should be, your compost pile should have an earthy smell. If it smells bad, there’s something imbalanced. It could be that the pile is too wet, or it might be you put the wrong scraps in the pile (dairy products, meat scraps, etc.).

Where Should You Not Put A Compost Bin?

While it might seem easy to find a spot for your compost pile, it isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Here are a few areas you should avoid:

In Windy Spot

Avoid placing your compost pile in an area that experiences quite a bit of wind. While we understand that your backyard is probably equally windy, try to find a spot that has natural or manmade windbreakers. 

Too much wind will cause your compost pile to dry out too quickly. While you can’t direct mother nature, you can pick a solid spot for your compost bin. 

Under A Tree

Underneath a tree is the perfect spot for a compost bin, right? It has plenty of shade and occasional sunlight, so it should be perfect, right? Not quite. While you have the right idea, we need to remember that tree roots need water and nutrients. 

If you place your compost bin underneath a large tree, the root system may sap the nutrients and water from the bin, potentially even growing into the heap for easy access. This might not be an issue with smaller trees or those with deep root systems, but it’s usually best to avoid parking the bin underneath a tree. 

In Direct Sunlight

Although your compost pile needs sunlight, don’t park it in direct sunlight (or full shade, for that matter). We’ll discuss this a bit more in the following section, but avoid placing the bin in direct sunlight. 

In Tight Corners

Avoid placing the bin in a tight corner or an area without much room to move around. When it comes time to turn the pile or harvest, you’ll have difficulty accessing the pile. Tiny spaces make it tricky to maneuver a pitchfork or shovel in the space to turn the pile, and wheelbarrows might not fit in the area for easy harvesting. 

Against The House

Again, avoid placing the bin right against your house. Unpleasant smells and the bugs the pile attracts might meander into your home. Who wants to open their window, expecting a whiff of fresh air, only to be assaulted by a pungent odor of rotting food? Not us! So, place the pile at least ten feet away from your house for the best results. 

Should A Compost Pile Be In The Sun Or Shade?

Ideally, a compost pile should be in an area with some sunlight but not direct sunlight. It’s best to have a mix of sun and shade. This way, the box warms up enough to keep the process moving but doesn’t get too hot for the microorganisms. 

Direct sunlight can heat up the bin substantially, causing the temperature in the bin to heat up rapidly. Or, if your bin doesn’t have a lid on it, the compost will dry out too quickly, slowing the composting process. 

On the flip side, complete shade can make the area too cool for the bin to flourish. You want to find a spot with the ideal balance of sunlight and shade. 

Where Should I Put My Compost Bin In The Garden?

The best place for your compost bin in your garden is where it won’t be a nuisance. It should be in an area where odors and leaking liquids won’t become an issue. Ideally, it should be on level, well-drained ground in a spot that receives plenty of sunlight for the box to stay warm.

You don’t want to put the box in total shade, as this will slow the composting process. However, don’t put it in direct sunlight, as the box might get too hot (this can also mess up the composting process).

Since these factors vary from one garden to the next, use these qualifiers to find the best spot for your compost bin. 

Tips For The Best Compost Bin Placement

Perhaps you just bought your compost bin and are excited to get started. All you have to do is park it in your yard and start composting, right? Well, yes, but it’s not as simple as you think. Here are a few tips to find the best spot for your compost pile:

Place It By Your Plants

Many folks use their compost for their gardens and lawns. If you’re using it for your garden, place it close to your plants. You could park the pile in your garden, providing you have enough room. 

However, some folks might not have the space for a compost pile in their garden, so you can always place it somewhere nearby on the outside of your garden. This will make the compost easier to haul over once it’s ready to harvest. 

Give Yourself Room To Work

You’ll need room to work around your compost pile. Once your compost pile is ready to harvest, you need to haul it away to your garden, lawn, etc. So, make sure you have plenty of room to work around the pile. 

Ideally, you can fit a wheelbarrow around the compost pile without a hitch. This will make harvesting easier – no need to take small buckets at a time; simply load it into a wheelbarrow and take it away. 

On top of that, your compost pile needs to be mixed regularly. So, unless you have a compost tumbler, you need plenty of space to work with a pitchfork or shovel. 

Leave Room For Growth

Over time, your compost pile will grow. So, don’t underestimate its growth by giving it a tiny footprint in your backyard. As mentioned, you’ll need enough room to work, but you also need room for your compost pile to expand. 

You can incorporate several compost bins into your system so you can have several piles at different stages in the process. This is an excellent way to manage considerable amounts of waste material (kitchen scraps, leaves, manure, etc.) and get compost throughout the process. 

Put It By A Water Source

The microorganisms in compost need water to flourish and do their job. So, to save you some work, put your compost bin by a water source. Whether this means it’s within easy reach of a spigot or within range of your garden hose, make sure it’s easily accessible for watering. 

Place It Over Well-Drained Soil

Position your compost bin over top of well-drained soil, especially if you’re using an open-bottomed bin. You want the contents of the bin to remain moist but not waterlogged. So, placing it over well-drained soil will allow water to seep out and away from the bin.

If you place it in an area that doesn’t drain well, the bin could sit in stagnant water when it receives too much water or heavy rain, causing unpleasant smells. Make sure there’s a drain on the bottom of your compost bin if you decide to buy a close-bottomed bin. 

Hide It Away

Some composting bins are more visually appealing than others. If you don’t like the looks of yours, tuck it out of sight. You could place a privacy screen in front of it or tuck it behind some vegetation (shrubs, anyone?).

Alternatively, buy an unassuming compost bin with an opaque color. This way, you won’t see the compost at all until you remove the lid.