Should a Compost Bin be in the Sunlight or Shade?





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You have researched composting. You have gone out and bought the highest-rated bin on the market. You have curated the perfected mixture of coffee grinds, veggie scraps, tea bags, and even manure.

As you stand proudly in your background, ready to compost, you realize you have no idea where to put the thing. Should a compost bin be in the sunlight or heat? Does location matter?

Location is one of the most important factors when setting up a compost bin. Sunlight and heat are useful in that they speed up the composting process. However, too much sun can dry your pile out and cause other issues. Too much shade can cause excessive moisture and delay decomposition.

Your region’s climate plays a role in the placement of your compost bin as well. Ideally, placing your compost bin in partial sunlight is the best choice. 

So maybe that isn’t as clear as you would like, but we are here for you. To figure out the perfect location for your compost bin, check out our in-depth review below.

Compost Location

When choosing the perfect spot for your compost bin, there are several factors you should take into consideration.

Let’s check them out!


Direct sunlight is beneficial in many ways; however, allowing the sun’s beams to glare down at your compost bin can be problematic.

So what are the benefits? 

  • The sun increases the heat inside a compost bin, which helps microbes quickly break down the pile into useful fertilizer. 
  • The sun and heat speed up the composting process.

And the downsides?

  • Microbes love the heat. But they have their tipping point, and once it gets too hot, microbes will no longer be effective.
  • Even the thickest of compost bins can warp, melt, or become deformed under intense sunlight and extreme heat. Compost bins can be difficult to operate if it has any heat damage.
  • Fire! There have been reports of fires igniting as a result of intense heat within a compost bin.


It’s not all dark in the shade. Like the bright rays of sunshine, the shade also has its advantages. However, it has its fair share of shady outcomes as well.

Shade Pros

  • Shade keeps your compost bin cooler, keeping it from experiencing any of the unwanted side effects from the sun.
  • Shade can keep your compost pile moisture-filled.

Shade Cons

  • Shade delays the decomposition process – big time.
  • That means you don’t have fertilizer when you need it.
  • And all of those kitchen scraps are sitting around with nowhere to go.

Tips When it Comes to Shade

Since shade makes your compost pile damp, add additional carbon materials and turn it more frequently than you would otherwise, maybe even daily. That way, you will keep it aerated.

two compost bins in sunlight with some shade

Other Factors to Consider

Besides how much sunlight and heat your compost bin is exposed to, there are other factors to consider when choosing the perfect location for your bin.

Time of Year Matters

Compost experts recommend that you put your compost bin in the shade during winter. Add nitrogen-rich ingredients to speed up the composting process.

These are things like seaweed or manure. Turn the pile daily to make sure it’s aerated and thoroughly mixed. 

Your Compost Mixture Matters

Just like finding the proper location, concocting the right mixture of ingredients, including water, nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen, is essential.

Just take a whiff, and you’ll likely know if your compost mix is made up of all the right things.

Moisture Level Matters

Dry compost is not going to do you any good. Microbes work at a much slower rate as they need moisture to work properly. 

So if your compost pile looks dry and dusty, you likely have a problem on your hands. And if you can’t tell, just grab some of the mix and squeeze it.

If it just falls apart as dirt would, you know it’s not getting enough moisture. 

How to Fix Dry Compost Piles

So your compost pile is dry. THat’s ok; we have a few helpful tips to get your compost moisture levels back to where they should be:

  • Water your compost pile evenly. 
  • Remove the top layers to get to more moisture-soaked compost layers.
  • Increase the amount of carbon-rich ingredients you are adding, such as fresh grass or veggie scraps.

How to Fix Soaked Compost Piles

Your compost pile isn’t dry – that’s great! But wait, it’s wholly drenched with matted piles and is giving off an ammonia odor. You should:

  • Aerate your compost pile so that the microbes are getting the oxygen they need to work correctly.
  • Add shredded papers, dry leaves, or any other brown material that can soak up all of that extra moisture.

Climate Matters When Composting

Location, location, location. It’s everything, right?

So, where you place your compost bin in your yard is essential, but did you know where you are located also plays a role in how you should compost?

It’s true – consider these helpful tips regarding your location’s climate:

Cool to Cold Climates: the sun is vital in keeping your compost pile heated for quick decomposition.

Snow, sleet, and biting winds may require you to move your compost pile, and that’s ok. Just keep in mind or above tips from above when it comes to shady areas.

Warm to Hot Climates: Shade or partial sun is your friend as too much heat can dry out your compost pile, ultimately causing problems for you.

In Conclusion

Composting at home should be an exciting hobby that you look forward to. One that keeps your garden fertilized with essential minerals and reduces your carbon footprint. 

Finding the perfect spot so that your compost bin can thrive is incredibly rewarding.

That may be in the sunlight, with the heat pushing those microbes to do their thing. Or maybe you live somewhere tropical, so the shade is key.

Hopefully, you’ve learned that there are pros and cons to all locations. You just have to determine what works best for you based on your region and its climate. 

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