compost bin & garden beds

Hi Reader,

Since we’ve moved into this house (over 4 years ago!), we knew that we wanted to have garden beds. We have green thumbs in both of our families, and both grew up on eating fresh food out of our families’ gardens. Plus, we have the space: our house sits on a half acre. When we moved in, other than the house itself and a few small landscaped beds, the whole half acre was grass. And not nice grass either, but grass that would need a lot of love to be attractive to the eye.

We have already built a 12’x4′ three-section compost bin. And, as time goes on, the plan is to replace even more of the (resource-sucking) grass with things that are useful, such as a shed, swing set and sandbox for Bo, and our garden beds.

Compost Bin:

We built the compost bin a couple years ago. I feel great about it because we have way too much food waste. Like, a ton (this is, of course, something that we’re working on), and now it’s not going into a landfill. Of course, we put grass clippings and compostable yard waste in there too.

What it lacks in beauty, it makes up for in function. The compost bin is comprised of three sections, and the majority of it was reclaimed cedar planks from a fence that fell down prior to us moving into the house. The front panels and panels between the sections can be removed board by board for easy access and compost-turning. The back of the structure is compost mesh to allow the compost to breathe.

Garden Beds:

We’ve just finished building our garden beds. They are next to the compost bin for easy access, and because this corner of the yard gets the best light. Our beds are:

  • Two 4′ x 8′ x 2′ beds made with Alaskan Yellow Cedar (primarily 4′ x 4’s). One of the beds has a trellis for climbing plants, and the wire portion of the trellis is from leftover material that we already had. The wood and 6″ screws were purchased new. The lowest layer is filled with the sod we cut out, then compost, then a dirt/compost mixture (purchased)
  • One 4′ x 4.5′ x 8″ bed made with 8″ x 8″ cedar posts and 2″ x 6″ boards that were scrap wood from another project.
  • One 2′ x 2′ x 8″ bed also made with the wood scraps.

The total cost of the garden materials this year (including the material for the beds, dirt, plants, seeds, and a hose that reaches this corner of the yard) is probably around $750. Of all 5 structures (including the compost bin), only 2 have been made with new materials. And, because we planned and used sturdy materials, we expect them to last. Although expensive, I consider this project to be in two spend categories: 1) Food (reducing future costs), and 2) Hobbies (because we would not have spent as much if we genuinely didn’t enjoy spending time and energy on both the building and the gardening).

Post a comment or link to your garden set up! What has worked and what hasn’t? What will this years’ yields look like for you?


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