How To Rodent-Proof Your Compost Bin

Jul 16, 2018

If you’ve got unwanted rodents living in your compost bin a simple and effective way of keeping them out is by adding vermin mesh onto the bottom of it.

Vermin mesh (aka rodent mesh)  is made from thick wire (around 2mm) and has small squares that baby rodents can’t squeeze through. While it does start to rust after 5 years or so, it’s an effective way of composting food scraps without inviting all the rodents in your neighbourhood to move in at the same time.

Vermin mesh

The first step is to pick up some vermin mesh from your local hardware shop – we got it in a roll of 5m as we know we’ll use it for bits and pieces around our property. Some shops will sell it by the metre – just call around until you find the best place.

Roll it out, place your compost bin on top of it and cut off the right amount you need, keeping a few inches available around the whole bin.

Next up, cut the vermin mesh into a rough circle shape and then simply start folding the mesh over the edges of the compost bin.

I used my boots to help press it down firmly. It doesn’t have to be perfect – just strong enough that it grips onto the edge, which is really easy. You want to be able to take it off again (when your compost’s mature) so I made it reasonably loose.

And that’s it! So quick and easy. The only tools you need are some good wire cutters.

From here you can locate your compost bin somewhere convenient in your garden. We’ve placed ours near our chooks and goats who we feed every morning, this makes it easy for us to place food scraps in there on the same trip – effeciency plus!

You can also dig the compost bin into the soil 200mm to create another barrier to the rodents from getting in – but generally the vermin mesh is enough to do the job. 

As you can see below, we’ve got a second bin with a lid on it to store dry carbon materials. This makes it easy for us to add a small bucket of carbon with each bucket of food scraps that goes in. We also make sure we chop up our food scrasp to the size of a 20 cent coin to help them break down more quickly.

For something that take less than an hour to do, you’ll be kicking yourself you didn’t do this years ago. Happy rodent-free composting!

your thoughts:

17 Comments

  1. Darren (Green Change)

    What sort of stuff do you compost?

    I’ve set up a compost bin several times, but I never have much to put in it. We give everything from the kitchen to the chooks. Even weeds etc go into the chook pen. Whatever they don’t eat (e.g. corn cobs, woody stems, etc) accumulates, but I rake it into a pile and water it, and it breaks down over time.

    I’ve got several compost bins sitting around doing nothing, and am wondering if I’m missing an opportunity?

    Reply
    • Hannah Moloney

      Sounds like you may not need to use a compost bin if your chooks are eating them all :-).

      Reply
      • Mike

        Yes. You are missing the opportunity to create an awesome soil conditioner, give it go.

        Reply
    • Caroline

      If you don’t need to use your compost bins for composting, they make really good tall containers for growing no-dig potatoes…

      Reply
    • Manuela

      I think one reason could be that you have not enough weight/material
      Also stuff outside wont compost, you have to turn it in a bit or add same amount of counterpart (greens and browns are counterparts)
      I noticed that when I added paper, on top, nothing happened, same with food scrapes. I now make sure to turn new stuff in a bit since I learned that the outside stuff won’t compost.
      The bottom needs air, start with cardboard to attract more worms and a layer of twigs for air.
      What to add:
      The proper balance of material: You can’t build a fire with tons of wood and little paper! Browns need the contact with greens. Alternate 1 bucket green (coffeground is also green), grass clippings, food scrapes with 1 bucket leaves and gloss free crumbled paper, shredded cereal boxes , small pieces of cardboard (place a bin to store browns next to composter, really helps make it easier)

      Poke pile with stake frequently for air and this also keeps rodents from living there

      Be greedy with water, too much water and it turns anaerobic, it needs air.

      Looks like you never let your pile dry out.

      Also look for signs of life: are there worms, flies etc in your bin?
      Bad Smell? The smell is a great indicator. You can add an activator
      Or try cover it, or add browns when foul smell or too many white lave nuggets present–it is too wet

      Reply
  2. Marion Johnson

    OMG….looks so easy & obvious. I am in fact kicking myself!!!! LOL I’m off to the hardware first thing in the morning 🙂 Thanks Hannah

    Reply
  3. Laurell

    What do you do when the rodents have eaten holes in your compost bin?

    Reply
    • Thea K-W

      Hi Hannah,
      We have a rodent problem at the moment (I’m the only one who turns the compost and I haven’t been doing it as frequently). We have kinda holey bins that we got 2nd hand and I was wondering if it would be worthwhile wrapping the metal mesh around the entire bin itself (wether inside or outside) as well as on the base, as currently they have easy access through multiple ‘aeration holes’.
      Would love to hear your thoughts!
      Thanks,
      Thea

      Reply
  4. Viv

    Hello, Where can I get a worm farm. Don’t like the look of the bunnings offerings. Only 2 of us, so not a big farm. Thank you

    Reply
    • Hannah Moloney

      Depends where you are Viv. If you don’t want to make your own just start calling around your local independent nurseries until you find one :-).

      Reply
  5. Paper Recycle

    Very appreciated technics has applied in here for making the bin and it can easily rodent your unwanted things or waste into the compost bin. I think that’s so quick and easy so we can only use as the tool which can use like some good wire cutters.

    Reply
  6. Bart Bouricius

    Please,

    If you truly care about the environment, don’t use worms. Allow nature to do the composting instead. All the worms that are sold commercially are invasive species from Eurasia or Africa, and they have done tremendous damage to the soils of especially states around the Great Lakes where earth worms do not naturally exist and where it is now illegal to release them. I know most people reading this are concerned about the environment, and there are great ways to compost naturally without using invasive species. Invasive earth worms have also done serious damage to forest environments by eating the duff soil layer (top insulating layer) which the native worms do not do,

    Soldier flies compost faster and make just as good compost. They are natural and native and will come to the compost without you having to do any manipulation of it. You should have some hardware cloth protected holes for them to enter though. I have allowed nature to compost my families food waste in Massachusetts and Costa Rica, and it works perfectly, also neither the soldier fly larvae nor naturally occurring bacteria are picky like earth worms. They compost everything completely, and the compost has the same nutritional value for crops as worm based compost. Here are a some links:
    EARTH WORMS:
    https://twin-cities.umn.edu/global-earthworm-invasion

    https://www.audubon.org/news/invasive-jumping-worms-are-now-tearing-through-midwestern-forests
    SOLDIER FLIES:
    Keep in mind there are several native species of soldier flies, though mostly the “black” and “yellow” soldier flies are discussed.

    https://gardenclubofcamaswashougal.org/2015/10/25/composting-with-black-soldier-fly-larvae/

    https://www.edthatmatters.com/composing-using-black-soldier-flies-bsf-and-their-effect-on-earth-worm-bins/

    Reply
    • Hannah Moloney

      Hi Bart, the compost worms aren’t invasive earthworms in Australia, they’re red wriggler and tiger worms. And yes I’m a fan of the soldier fly but they don’t live in Tasmania as they need warmer temperatures.

      Reply
  7. sdaf

    Soldier flies are really hard to keep stable as they sometimes appear and overrun my compost bin but dissapear just as fast. REd wrigglers just keep on goin.

    Reply
  8. Manuela

    This is what I learned so far:
    A hot compost bin needs also weight in order to compost. If you don’t add enough food, it will take so long.
    It needs water, air and a lot of weight/size caused by the material
    A square yard is necessary to do the heating. (1 big step in all 3D directions)
    The countdown of heating begins once you are there! and not before that.
    When filling it up, don’t expect wonders. but It does compost, just very slowly.
    I like hot compost, it kills wheats and plant desease

    At a compost seminar I also learned something new to me
    -never let compost dry out, you have to start all over! So find a shady spot in summer.
    -no need to shred the leaves, unless you love the workout of turning-
    ( whole leaves keep water and air longer)
    -fill a bin with leaves/browns place next to compost bin to convieniently alternate
    a bucket of greens with browns
    -if you have a door at the bottom, then use a trellis stake to poke holes for air, but too
    small for food to go down to the bottom..If you poke bigger holes, then freshly added food
    can fall down to the bottom and you start all over again and your compost never is ready

    Reply

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