what base is best for a compost bin

Could someone please tell me wether it is best to put my compost bin on a concrete or paving slab base or to place it straight onto the soil. Any ideas please?



  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,806

    Soil-somewhere for the moisture to drain away and the worms and so on will move in from underneath

  • NetherfieldNetherfield Posts: 120

    /\ /\ /\ /\  Agreed.

  • I think it's a god idea to put some chicken wire beneath the bin to stop any rats getting in if you put it directly on to the soil.  My black bins are in fact on paving slabs which have a bit less than a half-inch gap between them.  No rats - but the worms can get in there.

  • Great idea about the chicken wire. I once asked about rats in the compost bin at a gardener's question time at Shrewsbury Show and was told that the best way to keep rats out of the compost bin is to keep the compost wet.

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    I have mice, and ants, which seem to live semi-pemanently in my Dalek compost bins. I'm not aware that they cause any problems. By digging little burrows through the compost, I assume that they help to aerate it. The bins are actually on concrete, but there are small gaps at the side, which (inadvertently) just about allow small animals to get in.

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,139
    artychris wrote (see)

    Could someone please tell me wether it is best to put my compost bin on a concrete or paving slab base or to place it straight onto the soil. Any ideas please?

    Mine are on soil, hand built wooden boxes with chicken wire on the soil which has now rotted away and not been replaced. When I get to the bottom of my in use box  woody branches are scattered on the soil and the filling box turned on top of that then left to rot down and I start filling the box that was turned out.
    This allows air in the bottom, turning the filling box puts the newest stuff at the bottom mixed with more air and damping with the magic mix as I go allows the heat to build up, six weeks later I will be using compost from that box.
    Never been bothered by mice or rats but have the the odd solitary bee in there.


  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 2,908

    My daleks on soil. Never had a problem with mice or rats in there.

  • Green MagpieGreen Magpie Posts: 665

    I have a dalek-type bin set on gravel, and a big timber composter on bare ground. The dalek always has plenty of worms (as well as ants and woodlice) - I have no idea how they get there - while there are very few in the big composter. I did notice it was a a lot wormier in wet weather, so perhaps it's too dry there for them some of the time. Now and again I see mouse or rat-holes in the big heap, but they could get in from the top or the sides, I can't prevent it.

    But they both produce good compost, and there doesn't seem to be a vermin problem.

  • artychrisartychris Posts: 60

    Thankyou very much everyone. You have all been a fantastic help, as usual!!

  • I know this is an old post - wondered if anyone would like to add any comments?  My garden is just gravel and flower borders and I have just acquired my first 'dalek' compost bin. I wondered what to stand it on. The gravel is on top of concrete where it's sited. Should I put bricks or some sort of base underneath? I have thick black plastic but presume this isn't a good idea?  I don't want gunge out of the compost to leach out and make the gravel all messy. I have lots of fallen leaves in bags ready to start it off.  I could clear an area under the bin so it sits on concrete?

  • Don't put anything under it.... just let nature and worms do their best. If you are going to have a lot of food/ kitchen waste, then do line the bottom with fine chicken wire. Could you site it on the flower borders, perhaps with something growing in front? At least that way nothing will leach out onto the gravel, but won't do the soil flower bed any harm, also, when you tip it over it will be directly onto a bed and not the gravel.

    Dalek compost bins can be a bit cumbersome to turn out once all the compost is ready, if it's on a bed you can just lift it off leaving he compost on the bed.

    I have a large wooden composter on my allotment and for a time had a of of raw food waste- it was overrun with rats for quite a while.... wish I'd used chicken wire!

  • The borders/raised beds aren't big enough for the compost bin plus it would look a bit like an enormous carbuncle! There are no gaps - just roses, small shrubs and flowers. See photo. I could put chicken wire underneath the bin and clear the gravel?  When I move my pots and containers there are often worms underneath so I suppose the worms will find their way into the bin - with a bit of help if I add a few!

    As there is just me, I don't have a vast amount of kitchen waste but my neighbour will contribute. I have sacks of leaves, some lawn mowings from a neighbour and there will be plant waste and prunings. I understand that newspaper is a good addition?  A friend had a terrible problem with swarms of flies in his compost bin. Not sure what contributed to this?


  • I see what you mean... what a pretty garden though & sweet looking dog too!

    I would just pop it on a cleared bit of ground, so you're not trying to separate compost from gravel when you want to use it. If it's got a lid it won't be so wet & don't imagine there'd be too much gunge leaking out!

    Grass cuttings can be a bit slimy if there's too much, but brilliant if mixed with other things so paper would be a good idea. You're looking to get a roughly 50/50 mix of green and brown waste, green = grass, plant & kitchen waste, brown = card, paper & twiggy stuff. I don't think about it much, i just know that along with grass & kitchen waste I add loo & kitchen roll tubes, egg boxes, bits of waste and shredded paper .... just mix a bit so it doesn't form a big dry clump and don't worry about getting green and brown ration exact.

  • That's Alice my Cavalier - yes she's a little treasure.

    Thanks very much for your suggestions. If I get problems later on when the compost bin contents are under way, I will call on the wise folk on this excellent site. image

  • Hi there,

    A lot of really useful information here. Thanks. I live in a flat and the building shares a concrete terrace. Lots of people doing really good flowers and little trees in lots.

    I don't feel like I can put a compost bin directly onto the concrete because the water would seep out of the bottom which wouldn't bother me as that's part of the point of better waste disposal and how the compost works. But it probably wouldn't be fair to the other residents. Does anyone know of a system of composting where the draiainge is collected into a box at the bottom or anything like that?


  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,357

    You could consider a vermicomposting (worm composting) bin.  Those are designed to collect the liquid which can be drained via a tap and is a superb liquid plant food.  Google 'worm factory' and one of the 'hits' is this video showing how it works:



    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,892

    Like Bob I would recommend a worm composting bin. Ours stands proud of the ground (handy for storing pots underneath) and has a tap that you use to drain any liquid away. Very nice and simple to use.

  • Oh brilliant! Just looked one up online. Looks ideal. Thanks for such a fast reply! 

  • Ferns234Ferns234 Posts: 3
    Hi there, I see this conversation hasn’t been active for a while but I’m chancing my arm here... ☺️

    I’m about to empty my compost bin for the first time. It’s a plastic bin with no bottom. I have a feeling that a lot of the black stuff has gone into the ground beneath it and that’s why I’m thinking of adding a mesh grid underneath.  I’m hoping to keep the compost in and let the worm roam free. I'm not too concerned about mice etc as the compost bin is way down in the garden and guaranteed to be full of wildlife. Any ideas?
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,171
    If there's no base then yes much of the liquid will have drained into the soil but usable d compost won't have mixed into the soil to a significant degree.  When you turn it out, make sure you've spread a plastic sheet to hold it and keep the surrounding area clean.   It's also easier then to scrape up bits that need to back in for another go.  The stuff near the top will be less well composted and maybe still a bit woody, depending on what you're composting.
    The Vendée, France
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