Skip to Content

DIY Compost Screen with Garden Trays

Composting allows me to add some organic matter to my garden, but the material often needs sifting. Instead of buying a compost sifter, I made my own DIY Compost Screen by using common plastic garden trays.Hands holding compost

I have a huge compost pile at the back of my vegetable garden.  I am committed to organic gardening and try not to use any chemical fertilizers or pest control.

Recycle garden carry tray into a DIY Compost screen

My pile is done with the rolling compost pile method.  I find it easier than bins and piles that need to be turned conventionally.

When the compost has broken down and is ready to use for my vegetable garden, it might need screening.  Often, compost will still have some bits and pieces in it that have not broken down and will need to be screened. 

There are lots of ways to do this, but one that is easy, costs nothing and works well is to recycle old plastic garden trays as compost screens.

When you go to a garden center and buy trays of plants, they will often put them into black plastic carry trays which have holes in the bottom.  They make perfect compost screens. 

Now, they will not last forever, since they are lightweight, but I can manged to screen several wheel barrows full of compost before they start to break down on the sides.  When they do, I put one with a fine screen inside a larger one with bigger holes and start again.

Eventually, they will break, but by then I have been back to the garden center and have more waiting for me to use.

This is the one I am using right now. It has holes that allow the compost to fall through but still retain sticks, twigs and large weeds.

Plastic tray ready for adding compost to screen.

The plastic tray is ready for adding compost sol that it can be screened. I just dumped in a large amount of compost, held it over my wheel barrow and gave my arms a good workout by shaking it back and forth.

Still needs breaking down.

The left over bits will go back into the compost pile so that it can break down further.  When I was finished shaking the tray, the bin still had a lot of material that was not broken down. That just got dumped back into the largest part of my compost pile for more decomposition, and I added more compost material and shook again.  When I was done, this is what I ended up with:

Finished compost.

The finished compost is ready to add to my garden. This load of compost was just filled with earth crawlers.  They love my compost pile!

worms in compost

The worms love my compost and they will help to aerate the soil. My project for next year is to have hubby make me a nifty screening gadget that I discovered on YouTube.  Fingers crossed.  Until then, my DIY Compost screen will work just fine!

How do you compost? What is your favorite method?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Want to know what you can and cannot add to a compost pile?  Check out these articles:

Pin This Compost Sifter Project for Later

Would you like a reminder of this inexpensive garden hack? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.Inexpensive garden screens made of recycled plant trays

Share on Social Media

Composting is super easy with a rolling compost pile
Rolling Compost Pile Method of Composting
beef stew with root vegetables
Beef Stew with Root vegetables

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."