Is a Bottomless Compost Bucket Worth It?

There can be many different options to choose from when it comes to finding the right composting system for you. One major decision you will have to make is whether or not your compost bucket should have a bottom. 

A bottomless compost bucket can be worth it for many reasons. No bottom gives microorganisms from the soil direct access to the pile, which can help speed up the process. It also allows water to drain from the pile naturally without intervention. 

Let’s discuss the bottomless compost bucket and see if it is the right option for you. 

When Would a Bottomless Compost Bucket Work Best?

While there are plenty of benefits to using a bottomless compost bucket, there are definitely places it will work better than others. For example, you will need to place a bottomless compost bucket on the soil for it to work properly. Placing it on a dry surface like cement or brick will dry out your compost pile and not give microorganisms proper access. 

They Allow More Efficient Draining

If you place your compost pile on dirt, then the pile will be able to drain when necessary. Compost piles need to be able to drain to keep the right amount of moisture within the pile. It is unlikely that water will be able to drain properly from the bucket if you place it on a solid surface. So, dirt can help absorb that extra moisture.  

Too much water can cause flooding and cool the pile, drastically slowing down the composting process. Check out my other article for more information about the importance of allowing water to escape your compost bin: Does a Compost Bin Need Drainage

You’ll Have Easier Access To Your Compost

A bottomless compost bucket also allows for easy access to your compost pile. Rather than scraping the contents of your compost pile from the bottom of the bucket, a bottomless bucket allows you to simply lift the bucket off of the pile for quick, easy access. 

They Require Less Maintenance

Bottomless compost buckets are great for those needing a compost pile that doesn’t require much maintenance or attention. Compost buckets with a bottom and even compost piles just out in the open require plenty of turning to ensure that heat and water evenly distribute throughout the pile. Still, a bottomless bin is the best of both worlds. 

Because unneeded water can drain into the soil, the compost pile doesn’t need much help redistributing extra water. Compared to compost buckets with a bottom, this requires a lot less intervention on our part to ensure that water gets distributed as needed. 

Compared to open compost piles, the sides and top of the bucket helps hold moisture inside the pile. So, you will not need to turn the pile as much as you would if it were completely open because it is more likely to hold that moisture and heat inside. 

They Benefit the Soil

Another key component to bottomless compost buckets is that they benefit the soil you sit on top of and the soil you will eventually use them for. As the composting process happens, the soil underneath the pile will also get those valuable nutrients and benefits. Essentially, a bottomless bucket can benefit the soil it is on and the soil you move it to. 

For this reason, many people who use bottomless compost buckets tend to move them around. While you can keep it in one spot without harm, it may be best to consider moving it around so more soil benefits from composting. If done correctly, you can have well-balanced soil all over your yard without even using the composted soil. 

When a Bottomless Compost Bucket May Not Work Best

There are a few specific situations where it may be vital to avoid a bottomless bucket and seek one with a bottom instead. One example we already provided above is for allowing the compost to drain. This won’t happen on hard surfaces without a bottom. So, it is best to avoid a bottomless bin if soil is unavailable. 

However, even if you have plenty of room for a bottomless compost bucket to sit on soil, you still need to watch out for some things. First, there are rodents and other small animals to consider. This is a risk for any type of food or scraps left in an open bin, and composting is no exception. 

Keeping small animals out of your compost pile can be challenging when there is no bottom. They may want to help themselves to the food scraps, but that’s not the only reason you may find small animals in your compost pile. Small animals may burrow their way into your compost pile for warmth if the temperature is cold. 

One of the best ways to combat this common issue with bottomless compost buckets is to fence off the area where you compost. Using a wire fence that doesn’t allow small critters through will ensure that your compost pile remains untouched. So, consider this if you have concerns about small animals feasting or nesting in your pile. 

How Does a Bottomless Compost Bucket Work?

A bottomless compost bucket works like a traditional compost bin, but it does not have a bottom. This means that any materials you place in the compost bucket will fall to the ground. With the bottom of the pile resting on the soil, the rest of the pile will maintain its shape due to the sides of the bucket. 

Where To Put Your Bottomless Compost Bin

The success of your compost pile has a lot to do with where you place it and how you layer it. So, let’s talk about both. First, you should always place your bottomless compost bucket on a flat area to avoid spilling. The ground beneath the compost pile will get wet, and the moisture in the soil can make the bin more prone to sliding or falling over

Once you find a relatively flat piece of soil for placing the bin, you should also ensure that the area is not prone to flooding. Places on your property at the bottom of a hill or slope may be more likely to flood if it rains. So, avoid these areas for your compost pile as you don’t want to flood the pile. 

Layering Your Compost

One of the most important aspects of a successful compost pile is how you layer it. The bottom layer of your compost pile will be the soil that it is sitting on. So, make sure you layer the pile carefully from there for maximum drainage. Also, the better you layer the pile, the less you will need to maintain it by turning and mixing it. 

At the very bottom of your bottomless compost bucket, you should have a layer of hard materials to allow for drainage. Branches and twigs work best to ensure that the moisture can trickle down into the soil without being stuck in a pile. For this layer, you don’t need that much material. Just a few branches will do the trick and get your pile draining by itself. 

After the bottom pile of harder materials, you can layer the compost pile as you normally would. Remember that too much green material can make the compost pile too wet, while too much brown material can make it too dry. So, try to find the right combination as you go. This will become a lot easier as you master composting with your chosen materials. 

The bottom layer of branches and sticks is probably the most important layer when using a bottomless compost bucket because it will allow some separation between the pile and the soil. This is optimal for draining and can make a huge difference in how much oxygen can enter the pile as well. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, a bottomless compost pile is definitely worth it and the best option if you have the right space. It can help your pile drain, benefit the soil it is on, and give you less of a headache by requiring less maintenance. 

Obviously, this isn’t going to be an option for everyone. If you are considering the bottomless compost bucket, make sure you have soil to place it on and can avoid small animals making their way into the pile. Otherwise, it can make composting easier for you.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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