garden diy

diy compost sifter

Even the most finished of composts can still contain little pieces of organic matter that has not yet finished decomposing. There’s nothing worse than trying to rake out the large pieces every time you want to use a little bit of compost. Using a compost sieve or sifter can make this tedious task a breeze. It also works great for vermicomposting.

We have our share of both compost varieties going. Using a compost sifter gives us nice looking fully finished compost separated from large organic matter, worms, and any plastics that may have accidentally slipped through when shredding paper. We have been waiting far too long for this wonderful garden tool to enter our lives.

sifting compost diy compost sieve

how to build a compost sifter


2 – 8’ 2×4 pressure treated or rot resistant wood board
¼” mesh hardware cloth
3” galvanized screws
2-1/2” galvanized screws
heavy duty staples

  1. Cut the wood pieces. The frame consists of a total of 4 boards 26” long and 4 boards 19” long.
    cutting wood board for compost sieve
  2. Lay the bottom frame out using two 24″ and two 19″ boards. Attach the four pieces of the frame with two 2-1/2” screws at each joint.
    compost sifter frameconstructing compost sieve
  3. Spread the hardware cloth across the frame. The cloth should overlap the edges at least 1.5”. Cut the width to fit.
    construction compost sieve
  4. Staple the hardware cloth to the bottom frame using a heavy duty staple gun. Fold over any excess cloth and staple it down as well.
  5. Lay the top frame out using the remaining two 24″ and two 19″ pieces. Attach two sides of the top frame together with two 2-1/2” screws at the corner. Set the other pieces of the frame aside.
    making-top-framediy compost sifter
  6. Flip the whole frame over holding the two pieces of the top frame in place. Attach the bottom frame to the two pieces of the top frame with two 3” screws for each top frame piece.
    constructing compost sieve frame
  7. Flip the frame right side up. Attach the remaining two sides of the top frame with two 2-1/2” screws at each corner.
    diy compost sifter
  8. Flip the frame upside down again. Attach the bottom frame to the rest of the top frame with two 3” screws for each top frame compost sieve

Using the compost sifter or sieve

  1. Spread your compost or vermicompost out to dry a little. You want a crumbly consistency that doesn’t have large clumps. Give it a few hours to dry out.
  2. Once dry, place the compost sifter across something to lift it up and allow the sifted compost to fall through and be collected. Our wheelbarrow works perfect.
    sifting compost diy compost sieve
  3. Fill the compost sifter about two-thirds full and shake the sifter back and forth working the small pieces of compost through the sifter. For vermicompost, it’s best to sift at least a couple of times to collect as many worms as possible.
    Our compost sift has quickly become a new favorite garden tool with its ability to quickly give us the fresh clean compost we strive to achieve. Building this compost sieve took no time at all, and in minutes we were putting it to use. Kristyn’s OCD side couldn’t be happier and soon our gardens will be telling us how happy it makes them.


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