Composting and compost bins

Hennepin County sells compost bins to help you start composting in your backyard and recycle your food and yard waste into nutrient-rich compost.

There are two options for purchasing a compost bin:

  • Purchase at the Hennepin County Drop-off Facility in Brooklyn Park
  • Pick up a pre-ordered for pickup at a distribution event (seasonal)
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Purchase a compost bin

About the bins

Compost bin frame

The compost bins sold by Hennepin County are made of cedar and wire mesh. Bins are sold as a kit with all materials, hardware, and assembly and composting instructions included; some assembly required.

Kits are about 3' x 3' x 1'. Assembled bins are 3’ x 3’ x 3’.

Bins cost $50 each. Some assembly is required. Lids are available for an additional $15.

Bins are built by Sentencing to Service (STS) Homes crews, which is an on-the-job carpenter training program for low-risk offenders.

Cities have varying backyard composting ordinances; check with your city recycling coordinator about your local ordinance.

Seasonal compost bin events

Check back for 2020 compost bin events.

Purchase a bin kit any time of the year

Hennepin County Drop-off Facility in Brooklyn Park

Effective March 17, 2020, Hennepin County closed all public facing services at our drop-off facilities for household hazardous waste and recycling until further notice.

Compost bin and lid sales will resume once the Brooklyn Park drop-off facility is back to normal operations.

How to assemble bin and compost

Take the following steps to start successfully composting in your backyard.

Get a compost bin

Hennepin County sells compost bins at distribution events and at the drop-off facility in Brooklyn Park. Many lawn and garden stores also sell compost bins, or you can search for options online to make a compost bin.

Assemble your compost bin

If you purchased a Hennepin County compost bin, see the following resources for assembly instructions:

Find a place for your compost bin

Place your bin in a convenient location for easy access. An ideal spot gets some sun, has good drainage and is easily accessible.

Each city has its own ordinances about composting, so check with your city recycling coordinator for details concerning your local laws.

Add materials

Many people understand what can be compost in backyard bins but can get confused about what not to compost.

Do compost

  • Yard waste, including grass clippings, plant trimmings and leaves
  • Kitchen waste, including fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags and egg shells
  • Small amounts of sawdust, wood chips, wood ash, and small sticks
  • Organic materials that can be added to enhance the nutritive value of compost, including blood and bone meal, cotton seed meal and aquatic plants.

Don't compost

  • Meat and dairy
  • Fats and oils
  • Pet waste
  • Weeds with seeds
  • Large pieces of wood

As a general rule, add three parts of dry, brown materials to one part of wet, green materials. Brown materials include dried grass, leaves, straw, sawdust and twigs; green materials include coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, green leaves and plant trimmings.

Home composting systems typically don’t reach high enough temperatures to break down meat, dairy, grease and oil.

These materials can also attract critters to your compost bin and cause foul odors.

Feces from pets may carry pathogens that could cause health problems.

Large pieces of wood do not compost quickly and require a lot of energy to decompose, so wood should be chipped or shredded and used minimally.

Maintain your compost pile

Follow these tips to maintain a successful compost pile:

  • Keep your compost pile at the right moisture level. If your compost pile has a bad odor, it lacks air circulation or it may be too wet. Try turning the pile and/or adding dry, brown materials to the pile.
  • If your compost pile is not heating up, it may need more nitrogen or "green" material. Add grass clippings or a nitrogen fertilizer to the pile.
  • Bury kitchen scraps at least 8 inches deep in the compost pile to discourage critters.
  • You can keep adding to your compost pile as it is composting. However, you may want to start a second pile if you have enough materials.
  • Add a layer of straw or hay to the top of your compost pile in the winter to keep it warm.
  • The best pile is made up of a variety of materials.
  • The smaller the bits of compost material, the faster the pile will decompose.

For more detailed instructions on composting in your backyard, see the how to compost in your backyard (PDF) flyer.

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