Home composting is becoming all the rage as people are finally getting on board with this eco-friendly, money-saving, waste management option.
We’ve already covered the best kitchen compost bins to get you started with easily disposing of your food scraps and other organic material indoors.
But what happens next?
It’s perfectly acceptable to create a homemade heap in your garden, but if you really want to get ahead of the composting curve, you should be looking at a dedicated tumbler.
We’ll cover all the advantages in the buyer’s guide and FAQ section, but let’s get stuck in with a selection of the best compost tumblers on the market.
Soon, you’ll be turning your way to that sweet, sweet, black gold.
- The 13 Best Tumbling Composters of 2020
- FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter
- EJWOX Composting Tumbler
- SQUEEZE Master Large Compost Tumbler Bin
- Miracle-Gro Large Dual Chamber Compost Tumbler
- 50-Gallon Wheeled Compost Tumbler
- FCMP Outdoor HF-DBC4000 Tumbling Composter
- Good Ideas EZCJR-BLK Compost Wizard Jr.
- Lifetime 60058 Compost Tumbler
- Spin Bin Tumbling Compost Bin
- 7 Cubic Feet Compost Wizard Dueling Tumbler
- Envirocycle Mini Composting Tumbler Bin
- Lifetime 60309 Outdoor Rotating Composter
- Mantis CT02001 Compact ComposTumbler
- How to Choose the Best Backyard Compost Tumbler 101
- Do I need a compost tumbler?
- What’s the best location for a compost tumbler?
- Should I put worms in my compost?
- How do I use a compost tumbler?
- How often should I turn my compost tumbler?
- What happens if you don’t turn compost?
- What’s the best way to vent a compost tumbler?
- When should I stop adding food to my compost tumbler?
- How long does it take to compost in a tumbler?
- Can you turn compost too much?
- Can I put weeds in compost?
- How often should you water compost?
The 13 Best Tumbling Composters of 2020
FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter
Based out of Ontario, Canada, Forest City Models and Patterns are known for their injection molded plastics, and as a result, they also manufacture some of the best composters, rain barrels, and planters on the market. This is their eight-sided, dual-chamber tumbling composter and the best small compost tumbler on the market.
Ideal for beginners, it makes mixing easy and it’s offered at an affordable price point. Simply close the door and turn five to six times every two or three days. The sliding doors make it accessible to add waste or extract fresh compost, and the unit has a 37-gallon capacity that’s ideal for smaller yards and gardens.
Reward: The best budget compost bin hands down.
- Tough, durable construction.
- Excellent aeration.
- Corrosion-resistant steel frame.
- Easy to use.
- Available in anoher color.
- A hassle to assemble.
- It might be too small for some.
EJWOX Composting Tumbler
This composting tumbler is a slightly different design from the FCMP model, this time with two separate sliding doors for each compartment, and an overall increase in capacity at 43 gallons.
The frame is made from powder-coated steel, with an aerated internal bar to improve air flow and allow your compost to break down faster. The walls are UV inhibited, absorbing and retaining heat to assist the process.
It has a convenient loading height so you can slide a cart under the tumbler for when you’re ready to spread the compost around your grateful garden. Or, even on your own indoor potato patch if you prefer.
Reward: One of the cheapest tumblers with a large capacity.
- Durable construction.
- Rodent-proof design.
- Good ventilation.
- Generous size for the price.
- Again, it’s a challenge to assemble.
SQUEEZE Master Large Compost Tumbler Bin
With two separate sliding doors covering two compartments, this large compost bin offers an excellent aeration system with added air holes and a 43 gallon capacity for your food scraps and waste.
It’s super easy to rotate without the need to dig, turn, and mix by hand, so you simply dump the contents of your kitchen compost bin into the tumbler and turn it six to seven times every few days.
Made from high-quality BPA-free plastics and a heavy-duty steel frame, it has high heat resistance to get your compost in the optimum temperature range to create the magic.
Reward: One of the best compost tumblers for aeration.
- Well-made construction.
- Rust-proof coating.
- UV-protected to prevent weathering.
- Choice of door colors.
- The instructions aren’t very clear.
Miracle-Gro Large Dual Chamber Compost Tumbler
A dual-chamber compost tumbler from the plant food experts with this effort from Miracle-Gro. Achieve the black stuff in four to six weeks (or less in warmer weather) with this fast and efficient unit with two compartments that can turn independently of each other.
Each hold can contain up to 27.7 gallons, yet it’s still compact enough for you to use on a balcony, porch or patio – or for smaller yards and gardens.
The frame is made from rust-proof, powder-coated steel, while the main body is manufactured from BPA and toxin-free PP plastic. And it’s easier to assemble than any compost tumbler we’ve covered to this point – which is a nice bonus.
Reward: The best compact tumbler – with a large capacity.
- Rotation lock stoppers.
- Rodent proof.
- Name to trust.
- Internal mixing bars.
- Good aeration system.
- Paper-free, easy-to-use instructions.
- The sliding doors aren’t the best.
50-Gallon Wheeled Compost Tumbler
This large-capacity drum compost tumbler offers 50 gallons of space inside its single compartment, which is made from heavy-duty, recycled plastic. Its unique construction enables excellent air-circulation for super-fast composting, while the built-in mixing fins inside help break down any clumps of scraps and waste.
The tubular steel frame is solidly constructed, with the addition of incorporating two wheels for easy transportation around your yard. The large opening door is a screw-cap lid and offers plenty of mouth room in which to dump your scraps while minimizing mess.
Reward: The best compost tumbler with wheels.
- Tough and durable build.
- Easy to assemble.
- Large capacity.
- The screw lid can be a bit of a fiddle to use.
FCMP Outdoor HF-DBC4000 Tumbling Composter
Here we have another entry from FCMP, this time it’s a dual body tumbling composter with independent compartments.
With the right conditions, you’ll have a return of quality compost inside two weeks, using heavy-duty separate bins to allow the first side to finish while leaving the second side available to add fresh scraps and clippings.
Featuring aeration holes to allow improved airflow and deep fins which aid the breakdown of materials, this is a quality compost tumbler that’s been intelligently designed and built. The capacity is 37 gallons.
Reward: Probably the best dual chamber compost tumbler available.
- Easy to use.
- BPA free UV inhibited recycled polyethylene.
- Corrosion-resistant steel frame.
- Durable construction.
- It might be on the small side for some.
Good Ideas EZCJR-BLK Compost Wizard Jr.
Made from 98% post-industrial polyethylene, this is a heavy-duty compost tumbler that is designed to help you make the most out of home composting. Tumble just once a week, and you’ll have a rich fertilizer in around 30-40 days (if you have the right brown/green ratio of course – more on that later).
It comes fully assembled and ready to use, with no frames to put together, meaning you can get composting right away. Simply place the drum on top of the base and you’re good to go.
It has a generous 52-gallon capacity, with a large, screw-lock opening to help you deposit scraps and clippings. Turn wheels on the base assist the tumbler when you need to shake things up a little.
Reward: The easiest to use compost tumbler.
- Solid construction.
- Rodent and animal proof.
- Excellent ventilation.
- It can be a bit difficult to turn when it gets full.
- Base collects rainwater.
Lifetime 60058 Compost Tumbler
Made from high-density polyethylene, this tumbler has a huge 80-gallon capacity in a single-barrel design.
Featuring double-wall panels to assist in heat retention and break down organic material faster, the internal bar also helps with aeration and allows the much-needed flow of oxygen that is vital to the process.
The unit turns easily on its axis for even and balanced rotation, and it sits at a good height on a durable, steel-brushed frame. Built to withstand heavy-duty use, Lifetime have put their injection-molded kayak know-how into a compost tumbler – and it’s a great result.
Reward: The best large compost tumbler for the price.
- Large, removable lid.
- Tough and durable.
- Spring-loaded rotation lock.
- A lot of assembly required.
Spin Bin Tumbling Compost Bin
Here we have a compost tumbler of a slightly different design in the fact that it’s a vertical drum offering a large, 60-gallon capacity.
It’s packed with features to help the composting process along, including 20 ventilation ports, four compost thermometer ports so you can take the temperature without opening the lid, a dual mixer bar in the center for superior aeration, and top and bottom lids for easy access to add waste or remove compost.
All this held up on strong steel legs in a super-durable, BPA-free plastic housing that’s easy to assemble.
Reward: The best compost tumbler for mixing.
- Large capacity.
- Excellent ventilation.
- Very sturdy.
- Large, double opening.
- Can be a bit hard to access/empty.
- No locking mechanism.
7 Cubic Feet Compost Wizard Dueling Tumbler
This large black beast of a tumbler offers two compartments, each able to contain up to 26 gallons of whatever you decide to put in it (hopefully organic waste). It comes fully assembled so you don’t have to mess around with tricky instructions, and the eight-inch twist lids fit securely with plenty of room to add or remove material.
A nice feature that’s included in this particular product is that the base can collect compost tea – which can be used as a potent liquid fertilizer on plants and soil. Made from a heavy-duty black resin, this is a durable, easy-to-use compost tumbler that is BPA-free and FDA approved.
Reward: The best compost tumbler for easy assembly.
- Plenty of aeration holes.
- Generous size.
- Solid, rodent-proof construction.
- Easy to turn.
- Chambers can’t roll independently.
Envirocycle Mini Composting Tumbler Bin
Can a compost bin be described as “cute?” Envirocycle seem to think so, and you’ve got to admit as far as tumblers go, this is a rather nice-looking one. It can produce solid and liquid compost, with the tea being collected in the base with a handy tap spout you can use to drain it.
The unit is made from food-safe, BPA and rust free, UV and antioxidant protected materials, and is very sturdy as a result.
No assembly is required, it holds a capacity of 35 gallons, and won’t look out of place in any garden thanks to its unique and eye-catching style – with a nice map of the Americas included on the side.
The hot pink version might raise a few eyebrows though.
Reward: The cutest compost tumbler on the market.
- Solid construction.
- Attractive design.
- Drain plugs included.
- Easy to tumble.
- Large hatch opening.
- Might be too small for some.
- Expensive for the size.
- Not enough airflow – which can be remedied with a drill.
Lifetime 60309 Outdoor Rotating Composter
Here we have another quality Lifetime compost tumbler with this double rotating barrel design that has a maximum capacity of 100 gallons. The two, 50-gallon compartments can rotate independently and allow for continuous composting.
An attractive, smart aesthetic gives way to a balanced rotation as the barrels turn easily on their axis, while an aeration bar inside mixes the material well and allows oxygen to circulate.
Built for a convenient loading and unloading height, this is a well-made, practical tumbler that will last you for many years to come.
Reward: Probably the best tumbler compost bin there is.
- Attractive, wood-effect finish.
- Solid construction.
- Premium materials.
- Rotation locks.
- Latch closure.
- Removable lid.
- Very expensive for what it is.
- Difficult to assemble.
Mantis CT02001 Compact ComposTumbler
Finally, we come to this behemoth of a compost tumbler from Mantis. One for the pros (or if you have a very large garden and throw out a lot of organic waste) this beast holds a whopping 88 gallons before it’s at capacity.
The huge drum is made from BPA-free, food-grade heavy-duty plastic, and fixed to a powder-coated, galvanized steel frame that is rust and corrosion resistant.
With a large removable door, loading and unloading are effortless, and the contents are turned with the aid of a durable, side-crank to make tumbling even easier than it already is (although you need the extra help with the size of this thing).
Reward: The largest single-barreled compost tumbler.
- Tough, durable construction throughout.
- Premium materials.
- Excellent air-flow and ventilation.
- Drainage vents.
- Crank handle.
- Very expensive.
- Overkill for smaller gardens and yards.
How to Choose the Best Backyard Compost Tumbler 101
Below you’ll find some ideas on what you should be looking out for before purchasing a compost tumbler – with composting tips and tricks and a FAQ section thrown in for good measure.
Why Choose a Compost Tumbler?
As I’ve previously mentioned, building and maintaining your own compost heap is a perfectly suitable and successful way to create the black gold we so desire. Composting provides many advantages even in the old fashioned way, so, why spend money on a tumbler in the first place?
Because it has several advantages.
Tumblers are sealed off – which helps keep those decomposing smells from wafting around the garden, insects, and bugs out of sight, and prevents any unwanted critters from feasting on leftover scraps.
You’re able to control the moisture levels as the compost is largely protected from the elements.
The optimum temperature is easily obtained in a sealed compost tumbler or bin – which is vital to the process. In the right conditions, a sealed bin will heat up super fast.
And speaking of fast, having a tumbler will create beautiful compost in less time than if you simply have it piled in an exposed heap.
Tumblers are also much more transportable – and you can move them wherever they’re required – with or without wheels. You can even bring them inside to a warmer location for use during the winter – such as a garage or shed.
But perhaps the best advantage is that it’s barely any effort at all to turn it – and you need to mix your compost every so often to encourage its decomposition and get things moving.
This potentially back-breaking work is unnecessary with a tumbler, as you simply give the drum five or six turns every so often, thus avoiding hours of manual labor.
Finally – and this is a key advantage for a great many green-thumbed composters – a tumbler looks a million times better than having a pile of rotting crap in your garden.
Capacity and Overall Size
Perhaps the first thing you should consider is the capacity of the compost tumbler – and the actual size when it comes to space the unit is going to take up.
This will come down to a couple of factors. How much compost you would like to make, how much waste you think you’ll be throwing out on a regular basis, and the size of your yard or garden.
Obviously, if you’ve got a large family (human or otherwise) then the chances are you’re going to be generating a lot of organic waste materials every day/week/month.
With this in mind, opting for a larger compost tumbler is probably the best way to go. Remember that smaller tumblers will fill up fast, and some can be difficult to turn if they’re overloaded.
If you have a smaller household – the opposite is true – and a more compact system might be more beneficial.
And consider where you’re actually going to store the tumbler so you make sure there’s enough space for it. Double-check the overall measurements of the unit before purchasing.
Dual or Single Tumblers?
You’ll notice that some compost tumblers have dual barrels, while others just have one. What’s the deal with this and which should you choose?
With a dual tumbler, you can have two batches of compost cooking at once. This can often be a lot more convenient as you fill up one compartment and set it off on its journey, while still using the other for fresh material.
And the cycle continues.
You never have to stop adding material, but the downside is that you have to make the stuff in smaller batches, whereas with a single compartment you can create a massive load with time, patience, and the right conditions and materials.
Both work just as well – it’s up to you to decide which system is best for you.
How you access the tumbler might seem arbitrary, but the type of opening and the doors of a compost tumbler are actually quite important.
Depending on how much organic waste you want to dump in, or how much compost you want to get out, the size of the opening is key.
Do you want to be able to get a spade inside? Do you prefer a sliding hatch or a hinged lid? Is the lid removable? What about a lid that screws on a thread?
And don’t forget whether they’re likely to work in winter. While summer is really the prime compost season, it’s not impossible to keep doing it year-round – providing the doors haven’t frozen shut.
Decide which style best suits your needs and go from there.
Compost tumblers are more or less made from the same materials – a high-density polyethylene – which is a heavy-duty plastic, and a brushed or powdered steel frame that’s been treated against rust and corrosion.
However, some tumblers choose to leave out the frame altogether and are solely made from durable plastic with a base.
Make sure your tumbler is as tough and durable as possible – especially if you’ll be really putting it through its paces in the garden. It should be rodent and weatherproof as standard.
Allowing oxygen to flow freely through your compost heap is an essential part of the process, and this is another huge advantage that a tumbler has over a stagnant heap.
Look for units with plenty of air holes, vents or other features that allow the passage of air – even when you’re not turning it.
Aeration bars in the center of the drum seriously help to toss the compost and get oxygen through the material.
Remember, you can always add more holes if required – just makes sure you don’t overdo it.
How it Turns
Compost tumblers turn in a variety of different ways.
They might turn on an axis in a steel frame, vertically or horizontally.
Rollers might be incorporated into the base to allow the drum to rotate.
Some tumblers use a crank handle to help turn the unit.
Regardless, having a tumbler that’s easy to turn is essential – otherwise, it’s obsolete and has pretty much failed its one job.
Make sure you consider each style and which one you prefer, and note the positions of the hand grips or grab holds you use to get it rolling – they can really make a difference.
While compost tumblers generally won’t break the bank, they are surprisingly expensive considering they’re more or less a large plastic drum – especially the models over $200.
When it comes to this particular product, the most expensive isn’t necessarily the best. There are plenty of decent options around the lower price points.
The thing to remember is – the actual skill of making compost is 99.9% down to you. All these tumblers do exactly the same job – and providing the balance of waste materials and conditions are right, each of them should be successful at it.
So, it’s really up to you how much or how little you want to spend. In my humble opinion – it shouldn’t make that much difference to the end result.
For more tips on composting, read this guide.
Do I need a compost tumbler?
You don’t need one, per se – if you want to save money you can easily construct your own composting heap in your garden or yard, or simply dump scraps in an area you’ve marked out for composting.
But if you’re serious about creating the black gold, or if you simply want to enjoy the significant advantages a tumbler will provide, then owning one is a sound idea – with many obvious advantages.
What’s the best location for a compost tumbler?
I would opt to put a tumbler somewhere that it is not going to be in direct sunlight – yet will still benefit from the heat of the day. Somewhere partially shaded is ideal.
Close to a water source is also a good idea – such as an outdoor faucet – so you can add moisture if and when required. The actual bin shouldn’t get wet, however, so make sure it’s not anywhere that this is likely.
Aside from that, it’s really up to you where you place it – providing it doesn’t get in the way of any other jobs or activities in your garden or yard.
Should I put worms in my compost?
Not in a tumbler, no. There’s no need to add any creatures here as the heat will likely kill them off anyway, and they have zero chance of escape. It’s not their natural habitat, and they won’t like being disturbed when the tumbler is turned.
Or when they’re roasted to death in a hot bin.
For open compost bins or heaps, worms will naturally find their way to all that juicy organic waste they love and will help to break it down.
This is perhaps one of the disadvantages of a tumbler system – you’ll never get the worms feasting on the scraps.
But either way, you can just let nature do its thing – worms can simply help to speed up the process.
Top Tip: If your heart sinks at the thought of not being able to use our wriggly invertebrate friends in the composting process, why not look into vermicomposting instead? Building your own worm compost makes a great project to do with the kids, too.
How do I use a compost tumbler?
Glad you asked. Watch the informative video below for some great advice on how to create compost in a tumbler.
How often should I turn my compost tumbler?
A rule of thumb is to turn the tumbler five to six rotations every three days to four days. Alternatively, it doesn’t hurt to give the contents a toss every time you add new material to the recipe.
However, there might be other occasions when you’re called on to give it a whirl, such as if it gets overly damp, it’s not hot enough, or insects/critters are taking over.
Play it by ear – but don’t overdo it – as that can be just as bad as not turning it at all, which leads me nicely onto the next question.
What happens if you don’t turn compost?
Basically, the decomposing process will slow right down if there isn’t enough air flowing through the mixture.
This is best achieved by turning or tossing the compost every so often – to allow the future humus to aerate.
Of course, you don’t have to turn the heap – compost will still happen eventually – it will just take a lot longer.
What’s the best way to vent a compost tumbler?
Most compost tumblers worth their salt will come with a good aeration system already in place.
Vents or air holes allow oxygen to flow through the unit, assisting the decomposition process. Aeration bars add additional vent value.
However, if you find that your tumbler is somewhat lacking in this department (and some are better than others) you can always add a few more holes with the use of a drill bit.
Just make sure you don’t overdo it – and the holes aren’t too large for compost to get out or things to get in.
And don’t forget – turning the compost every three to four days is one of the best ways to increase the airflow – so make sure you get into that routine.
When should I stop adding food to my compost tumbler?
You can keep adding organic waste and material until the tumbler is full. In an ideal world, you’ll add the matter all in one go – but that’s not always achievable given the nature of our day-to-day lives and how we throw out our trash.
However, don’t fill the bin to capacity – you’ll want to leave plenty of room otherwise the contents won’t mix well.
Think of it similar to a washing machine – overloading will prevent it from performing correctly.
How long does it take to compost in a tumbler?
That depends on a number of factors, such as the amount of material “cooking,” how damp or dry it is, the airflow through the pile, the temperature, and the correct ratio of green to brown material.
With perfect conditions (a moderate-sized batch, moist but not damp, somewhere between 120-170 degrees Fahrenheit, a good turn every few days, and 2:1 brown/greens included) you should be looking at around three to four weeks to achieve the black gold.
But it can take up to 12 months if conditions are not optimal – so patience is key.
Can you turn compost too much?
Yes. Don’t overdo it. Although you might think you’re helping it out in mixing it up thoroughly, it’s actually having a detrimental effect and slowing down the process.
Allow it time to “cook” and do its own thing – turning no more than every three to four days.
A watched pot never boils.
Can I put weeds in compost?
It depends on the weed and the temperature of the compost pile.
To ensure you kill all weed seeds to prevent them from germinating, your compost should be above 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is possible to cool compost weeds, but there are a number of steps you need to take before doing so, and you should never compost weeds that have gone to seed.
Check online to see if you can or can’t compost a particular weed with your current set up – and avoid it altogether if you’re in any doubt.
How often should you water compost?
For compost to be in optimum “cooking” conditions, it should be moist but not damp.
A good visual indication to bear in mind is to imagine a sponge that has been soaked and then rung out.
Check your compost every few days, and water only when you feel it’s too dry.
If it’s too wet, add more brown material – such as shredded paper, toilet rolls, wood chips, etc.
Then make sure you turn it to allow proper airflow and let any excess moisture drain off.
Composting is a great way to turn waste organic materials into valuable humus you can use all around your garden, or even on your own indoor vegetable patch.
The best compost tumbler will help you achieve your goal while keeping your yard tidy and workload to a minimum. It’s a great feeling when you get the concoction right.
Personally, I’m leaning towards either of the FCMP products. They’re a suitable size for my needs, offered at a great price, and you don’t need to spend a fortune here to get the job done.
Let me know which compost tumbler you would choose and why.