Got a small compost pile that’s a bit of work to turn? Here’s a simple tool that’ll make it easy

red worms wriggling on a garden trowel

A well turned compost pile is a happy compost pile

I love the little compost pile in the center of our keyhole garden just outside the kitchen. It’s a really convenient way to dispose of kitchen waste and feed the garden with all those rich, organic nutrients all year long.

Problem is, sometimes it’s a pain to keep all the materials turned and composting because the pile is relatively small (2 feet across) and awkward to turn adequately with a garden fork.
If you’ve got a similarly small compost pile, here’s a super simple tool you can hack together in a couple of minutes that’ll make turning it a breeze.

How to Make a compost turner

Here’s what you need:

Tools on a portable tool bench

Here’s all the tools and supplies you will need


  • 1 – Dowel 3 to 4 feet long (I used an old mop handle)
  • 1 – 4-inch toggle bolt (any hardware or big box store will have them)


  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Pencil or Marker
  • Drill
  • Drill bit (3/8-inch will usually do the trick)


  1. Using your measuring tape and pencil, mark the center of the end of the dowel.

    Mark the center of your dowel with your marker

  2. Drill a hole in the center of the dowel about 1-inch deep (don’t worry if it’s not perfectly straight or centered).
    a drill making a hole in the end of a dowel

    Drill a hole in the end of your pole

  3. Thread the toggle bolt through the hinged nut all the way to the end of the bolt
    a large toggle bolt on a portable workbench

    Thread the bolt through the butterfly hinge

  4. Screw the bolt into the hole you drilled in the dowel and make sure it’s securely seated in the dowel (If the hole is too big, put a little hot glue in the hole then thread the bolt in.
    a toggle bolt threaded into the hole at the end of the dowel

    Thread the toggle bolt into the dowel

That’s it. Your compost turner is ready for use!

How to use your compost turner

The compost turner ready to work

Push the bolt end of your compost mixing tool deep into the compost, rotate it slightly and pull it back out of the pile. The butterfly hinge on the toggle bolt will fold outward when you pull up, bringing compost from below to the top and covering the uncomposted material.

Do this a few times until your compost pile is well mixed and aerated, and you’re all set.

Every few days, repeat. Your compost pile (and it’s residents) will thank you for it!

Oh, don’t forget to give the end of your tool a quick rinse to clear the butterfly hinge of dirt so it’s ready to go the next time.

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