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Should I place compost in shade or sun?

Finding My Feet

Should I place compost in shade or sun?

We have one of those large black compost bins in our garden. The previous owners of the property left it behind.
I've read and heard conflicting advice on whether this should be positioned in sunlight or in shade.
Can someone please put this debate to rest? Which is better?
Also, I've noticed the earth all around the bin appears to be disturbed/churned. Is this more likely to be worm action coming out, or pests trying to get in?
Home Improvement Guru

Re: compost

Good Afternoon @muzzamuru 

I have read the sam things about compost bins, Mine sits in the shade mostly during winter and in the sun for half the day in summer. It tends to break down the compost faster when the compost is heated via the sun (and also when the compost inside isnt too dry) During Winter it slows down. 

When the lid blows off mine I have noticed it pretty much stops.

Every 6 months or so (well truthfully closer to 12months ish) I lift the black tub up and then move it a meter or so and take the top uncomposted layer off the pile of compost and start again. I probarly end up with one or two wheelbarrows worth of nicely broken down compost with worms.


With the ground disturbed it makes me think of rats ect wanting to snack at the latest take out diner. I have seen suggestion to put down flyscreen flat with the bin over the top to stop this. It might be an idea to try. Also with compost it is suggested to turn it every so often. The mor eyou turn it the faster it breaks down.


Hope this helps, if you want some pics of what I am explaining just let me know and I will scrounge them up.



Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Re: compost

Hi @muzzamuru,


It's great to see that @Dave-1 has already provided some helpful advice.


The reason for hearing conflicting advice is that the answer is directly related to your climate and specific conditions, including the type of waste you're composting.


Having the bin in direct sunlight helps increase the internal temperature and accelerates the decomposition process. It also assists in drying out excess moisture and reduces the chances of the mix becoming anaerobic. Though, be careful with placing the bin in direct sunlight all day as this can cause the mix to dry out, slowing down the decomposition process. It's a bit of a fine line, and you want the mix to be moist and warm/hot.


I would advise selecting an area where the bin gets several hours of sunlight per day, but not enough that it requires you to re-moisten the contents regularly.


I'd agree with @Dave-1 that rats are the likely culprits for the disturbed earth. If you were to try a mesh under the bin, I'd recommend a steel bird netting, as the rats won't be able to chew through it. If you were to use flyscreen, you'd need to go for the aluminium version.


Please let us know if you have any questions.




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Community Manager
Community Manager

Re: Should I place compost in shade or sun?

This is a great question. I would love to hear an opinion from one or both of our resident gardening experts in @Noelle and @Adam_W.


Looking forward to your replies.




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Kind of a Big Deal

Re: Should I place compost in shade or sun?

Hi @ Jason and @muzzamuru 


I agree with Mitchell's advice - the location depends where you live to a large degree.  I'd recommend 4-6 hours of direct sun a day for most of the year but if you can position the bin where it receives at least partial shade for most of the day over summer (ie under a deciduous tree, for example), all the better.  If the temperature inside the bin gets too hot, it will disrupt the normal composting process and cook the contents, rather than encouraging natural decomposition.


The digging is almost certainly rats or mice. Bird cage mesh or small gauge wire mesh (chicken wire) beneath the bin will work at keeping the pests out, as will countersinking the bin so its lower rim is around 100mm below the surface of the soil. They're looking for food and/or shelter and the inside of a compost bin makes a cosy nesting place! The more difficult you make it for them to get in, the less likely they are to persist.

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