How to Build a Compost Screen

I am going to show you how to build a compost screen. A compost screen is really important for getting your compost ready to put into your garden so that your soil can start receiving all the benefits of compost right away!

Easy Compost Screen to build yourself

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Healthy Soil

It’s all about soil. That’s my number one piece of advice to anyone who wants to start a garden. Healthy soil is the key to a healthy and productive garden. Healthy soil provides so many benefits including less pests, healthier vegetables, less disease and better yields.

I always thought that helping soil become healthy would take years and years, and I didn’t think I had the time for it. But I was so wrong! It’s important to get started on the process of helping soil to become healthy as soon as possible. To learn more about how to build healthy soil, take a look at this post.

Screening Compost

 

Compost

One of the main ingredients for healthy soil is compost. Make compost out of yard waste, kitchen scraps, animal manure and coffee grounds. Learn how to make compost here.

As all of these things break down, they turn into the best plant food around. Side dressing your vegetables by adding compost around them will definitely give them a boost. And compost is better than fertilizer (even better than organic fertilizer) because you are also helping to build healthy soil as bacteria and micro-organisms work to break down the compost.

You can even use compost as mulch in your garden. To learn about other types of mulches you can use in your garden, take a look at this post all about mulch.

If you can’t make enough compost to feed your garden, you always have the option to buy some from the nursery.

Screening Compost

As you will see when you are making compost, it often contains sticks, rocks and even larger pieces of material that just didn’t quite break down well enough. Compost also tends to clump together requiring the clumps to be broken up by hand.

When you are ready to use your compost and it has broken down enough, it is helpful as a last step to screen your compost using a screen large enough to remove the pieces too big to put into your garden but let the compost move through it.

In order to be able to screen your compost you will need a screen, ideally something that will fit over your wheelbarrow, wagon or dumpcart. By following these instructions, you can build a screen to filter the unwanted material from your compost leaving it clean and ready to use in the garden.

Build a compost screen

 

How to Build a Compost Screen

This simple to make compost screen takes only a few materials and a couple of hours of time at the most.

You can easily modify the plans to fit your specific size requirements. This guide is broken down into 5 parts: a material list, tools list, cutting instructions, assembly instructions and a section with instructions and suggestions on how to use it. 

Before you Get Started

Here are the materials and tools you will need to have on hand before you get started.

Materials:

1 2”x6” x 10’ 

1 1”x4” x 6’

½” hardware cloth 24”x36”

2 ½” screws (you can use philips or t-25 according to your preference)

¾” poultry net staples

Tools:

Measuring tape

Pencil or other marking device

Circular saw

Drill or impact driver with an appropriate bit for the screw head you have selected

Drill for drilling pilot holes

⅛” drill bit

Diagonal cutters or shears to cut the hardware cloth

A hammer to hammer in the poultry net staples

Rafter Square  for measuring the 45 degree angles and marking squared ends of 2×6”

Building the Screen

Cutting:

First, measure and cut 2 pieces of the 2×6 24” long for the ends

Measure and cut 2 pieces of the 2×6 33” long for the sides

Next, measure 4 pieces of the 1×4 10” on the long side at 45 degree angles for corner reinforcements

Measure and cut the hardware cloth into a 24×36” rectangle.

*You can make the screen any size you would like. Remember that the 2×6 are 1.5” thick so take that into account when determining the length to cut them.

Assembly:

Lay out the cut pieces on a flat surface the 2×6 should form a rectangle with the 33” pieces on the inside of the 24” pieces. 

Using the rafter square, square the corners making sure they are as close to 90 degrees as possible.

Attach the 24” pieces to the 33” pieces using 2 ½ “ screws.

The 1×4 corners will go on top of the rectangle, one in each corner attached with the 2 ½ “ screws. Drill pilot holes using ⅛” drill bit

Flip over the frame to attach the hardware cloth fastening one edge first before moving to the opposite edge and then the remaining edges. There should be little to no overhang of the hardware cloth.

Build your own Compost Screen

How to Use the Compost Screen

Now that you have your compost screen built, place the screen over your wheelbarrow, bucket or cart. Shovel some compost onto the screen. While wearing gloves, move the compost back and forth. It will break apart and filter out any rocks and sticks. Throw away any rocks or sticks. Any compost that is too large to fit through the screen can be put back into your compost bin to break down some more.

Easy to build screen for compost

How to Build a Compost Screen

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

This easy to make compost screen is so helpful for screening rocks, sticks and clumps out of your compost. Your compost will be ready to go into the garden after screening it!

Materials

  • 1 2”x6” x 10’
  • 1 1”x4” x 6’
  • ½” hardware cloth 24”x36”
  • 2 ½” screws (you can use philips or t-25 according to your preference)
  • ¾” poultry net staples

Tools

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil or other marking device
  • Circular saw
  • Drill or impact driver with an appropriate bit for the screw head you have selected
  • Drill for drilling pilot holes
  • ⅛” drill bit
  • Diagonal cutters or shears to cut the hardware cloth
  • A hammer to hammer in the poultry net staples
  • Rafter Square- for measuring the 45 degree angles and marking squared ends of 2×6”

Instructions

Cutting

  1. First, measure and cut 2 pieces of the 2×6 24” long for the ends
  2. Measure and cut 2 pieces of the 2×6 33” long for the sides
  3. Next, measure 4 pieces of the 1×4 10” on the long side at 45 degree angles for corner reinforcements
  4. Measure and cut the hardware cloth into a 24×36” rectangle.

Assembly:

  1. Lay out the cut pieces on a flat surface the 2×6 should form a rectangle with the 33” pieces on the inside of the 24” pieces. 
  2. Using the rafter square, square the corners making sure they are as close to 90 degrees as possible.
  3. Attach the 24” pieces to the 33” pieces using 2 ½ “ screws.
  4. The 1×4 corners will go on top of the rectangle, one in each corner attached with the 2 ½ “ screws. Drill pilot holes using ⅛” drill bit
  5. Flip over the frame to attach the hardware cloth fastening one edge first before moving to the opposite edge and then the remaining edges. There should be little to no overhang of the hardware cloth.

Notes

You can make the screen any size you would like. Remember that the 2×6 are 1.5” thick so take that into account when determining the length to cut them.

Related Posts

How to Start a Compost Pile

Best Mulches to Use in the Vegetable Garden

How to Make Your Garden Soil Healthy and Fertile

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