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Using compost is one of the best ways to improve the soil quality of your garden, and with a home composter, you can make your own using garden waste and table scraps. It’s an inexpensive way to improve the look of your property. It’s also environmentally friendly, since you’re keeping that material out of a landfill.

Compost is created when certain types of plant matter are added to the bin, where bacteria break it down to produce carbon dioxide and heat. At the same time, bugs and worms eat and excrete the organic material. After 3 to 12 months—depending on the type of composter and amount of material—the result is a brown, crumbly material rich in vitamins and nutrients plants crave.

There are two main types of composter: tumbling and stationary. Compost needs to be turned periodically so that oxygen can reach the bacteria, and tumbling devices make this much easier. But the stationary bins usually cost a bit less and have larger capacities, even if you will need to use a pitchfork and some elbow grease to work the material. Don’t forget to consider units that seal up tightly to keep out animals.

With a home composter, you might never need to buy compost again!

Dual-chambered construction. Amazon

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This barrel-shaped tumbling composter can hold 37 gallons of organic waste in two separate chambers, which allows you to fill one chamber while the other is in the process of breaking down material. The tumbling action and holes for oxygen makes it easy to aerate the compost, and the large door provides quick access to finished product. The IM4000 is made from BPA-free, UV-inhibited recycled plastic body that won’t breakdown in direct sunlight.

Locking lid keeps out animals. Amazon

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This large, 94-gallon compost bin features a self-watering lid that locks to keep animals out. Openings allow air to flow through the compost, and the 27-inch by 27-inch top hatch provides easy access when you want to get in there with a pitchfork. It also features two sliding doors at the bottom to make removing composted material quick and convenient. The bin is made from 100 percent recycled, BPA free plastic.

Stackable platforms. Amazon

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Harness the power of worms! The Worm Factory 360 houses thousands of composting worms in a compact space; the wriggling little workers chow down on waste to quickly produce nutrient-rich composting material. The worms also keep the compost aerated and tumbled, which minimizes the work you need to do. The Worm Factory 360 consists of four stackable trays; worms and organic material are added to the first tray, and when it’s filled, you stack another on top. The worms continue to work their way upward, making it easy to rotate out trays as they’re filled. You will need to supply your own easily purchased worms, which, depending on your own interests, might be the best or worst part of this type of composting system.

Ventilation holes for aeration. Amazon

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This large-capacity bin is expandable to 216 gallons. Made from heavy-duty plastic mesh, the open-top bin is easy to use and inexpensive, with a design that allows ample aeration. On the other hand, there’s nothing to keep yard animals out of the compost, so if your lawn is in an area with a lot of fauna, this might not be the right choice. Otherwise, if you’re looking for something simple that won’t break the bank, this composter will get the job done and is a nice alternative to a messy pile in the corner of your property.

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