Choosing a location for your worm bin isn’t rocket science but there are some important considerations that need to be taken into account. Depending on your climate and whether you live in an apartment or have a big back yard, choosing the best location is unique to each individual’s situation. I’ll give you 8 ideal places to keep a worm bin but I also want to walk you through choosing locations indoors or out depending on your needs.
So, what’s the best place to keep a worm bin? Worm bins can be stored outdoors or indoors, depending on your climate and available space. However, the worm bin should be in an environment with a fairly constant median temperature. Examples of ideal places include:
- Under the kitchen sink
- In the garage
- On the balcony
- In the basement
- In a laundry room
- On the patio
- In the shed
- In the yard
This article digs deeper into the best places to place a worm bin, including how to select the best location to keep your red wigglers healthy and happy by practicing proper worm bin care and maintenance.
Ideal Places to Keep a Worm Bin
Some people choose to vermicompost outside all year-round, and others, like me, manage a bin outdoors during the warm months and take the bin indoors in the winter.
People living in the city or an apartment who don’t have the luxury of a large outdoor space usually find the best solution to be a small-scale vermicomposting bin that they can keep indoors year-round. (Click here to view the best worm bins for apartments, yard, or other situations.)
Ultimately, the decision to place a worm bin indoors or outdoors will depend on:
- the size of the bin
- the number of scraps being composted
- the climatic conditions in the area
- and whether it’s more convenient to have the bin inside or outside.
Let’s look at factors that you’ll want to consider, starting with vermicomposting outdoors.
Outdoor Worm Bins
The majority of people prefer to keep their red wiggler worm bins outside or in the vicinity of their house. Outdoor storage is preferable for some because there’s more space, and it keeps any unwanted odor from the living space. But understand that a worm bin shouldn’t smell bad. It should smell “earthy” which means it smells a little like dirt (more on smelly bins later).
When keeping a worm bin outdoors, there are a few key areas that need to be considered and monitored.
- Select a convenient location
- Give access to air and water
- Maintain proper temperature and light
- Move the bin in the winter
- Keep bin away from direct sunlight
- Prevent insect and rodent invasion
1. Selecting a Convenient Location
A worm bin should be placed somewhere that’s easily accessible for regular checkups, cleaning, and feedings. Some ideal outdoor areas include the shed, patio, or yard.
However, while convenience should be among the top priorities when selecting the location, make sure that the bin is far enough from your home to avoid luring pests inside the house (more on pest control later).
2. Giving Access to Air and Water
Dechlorinated or rainwater is best for adding moisture and when it’s placed outside, it tends to dry out faster compared to inside the home, especially in the warmer months. So store the bin close to an area where you can harvest and access rainwater if not using dechlorinated. Also, be sure there are adequate drainage holes in the bottom to prevent the pooling of stagnant water at the bottom from heavy rainfall.
If your bin has a reservoir at the bottom, it should be collecting excess liquid. If it isn’t, you likely have a drainage issue that could cause serious problems. I’ve found that when keeping a bin outdoors though, I really don’t need a reservoir. I just let the excess fluid drip to the ground.
Adequate air holes are also needed to provide oxygen, moderate moisture levels, and more.
And if the worm bin is stored in a closed shed or barn, keep an eye on the temperature during the summer months. My friend has a metal shed that heats up like a tin can in a fire during July and August. This brings us to our next point…
3. Maintaining Proper Temperature and Light
A primary concern for worms when kept outside is the temperature. Worms love the cool darkness of the soil. It is extremely important to make sure that their worm bin is in a shady spot. Always keep the lid closed during daylight hours to control the amount of light that gets into the bin. Frankly, you want to leave it on at night as well to keep rodents from seeking out food scraps in your bin.
The ideal temperature for a worm bin is 55 to 77º F (source). It can be handy to use a probe thermometer (link to Amazon) to ensure the temperature is nice and cool deep in the bedding but you can also just move some of the bedding and feel around with your hands. The main thing to remember is that the bedding should be relatively cool and moist. (A worm bin doesn’t heat up the same way a regular active compost pile does).
It may also be necessary to move or insulate the bin seasonally depending on temperature changes.
4. Moving the Bin in the Winter
During the winter, the compost bin should be moved into a sheltered area. Depending on the size of the worm bin, the best location can be inside a house or in a garage, barn or shed. If the worm bin is heavy and large, castings should be harvested from the bin to make it easier to move.
Alternatively, if moving the bin isn’t practical, at least take measures to insulate it by covering all of its sides. I’ve seen people do this with Styrofoam, blankets, even hay bales. If it’s a plastic worm bin, the best way to insulate it is to bury the bottom half into the soil but if you have clay soil, it’s not going to drain well so be sure to take that into account. I’d originally wanted a half-buried compost bin but the heavy red clay in my yard made me look for other solutions.
5. Keeping Compost Away from Direct Sunlight
Direct sunlight is the enemy of success when it comes to worm bin storage. The excessive heat from the sun can kill the worms. As mentioned earlier, it’s crucial to ensure the worm bin is in an area that remains shaded throughout the day.
6. Preventing Insect And Rodent Invasion
When the worm bin is placed outside, it should not be placed right up against the wall of a wooden house. This type of setup can be a recipe for insects to get into the soil and then find their way into the structure of your house.
The other issue is rodents. Although rats are not likely to come looking for your worms specifically as a food source, they can be attracted to the food scraps. While they are there, they are happy to eat worms too. This goes back to keeping a lid on things. Click here to read more about keeping rats out of your worm bin.
Indoor Worm Bins
Indoor worm bins are perfect for individuals who don’t have a large outdoor space. It’s quite easy to find a discreet area in the house to store a compost bin.
Some of the ideal areas to place a worm bin indoors include:
- under the kitchen sink
- in the garage
- in the basement
- on the balcony
- in a laundry room.
The great thing about managing a worm bin indoors is that it doesn’t come with the hassle of moving it when the seasons change. Not to mention, it’s quite convenient in terms of maintenance and care since it’s easily accessible. The only challenge with it is that, depending on your available space, you may need to opt for a smaller bin.
For successful indoor vermicomposting, it’s important to keep these guidelines in mind:
- Avoid appliances
- Choose the best location
- Provide airflow
1. Avoiding Appliances
When choosing an indoor location for a worm bin, be aware of how the setup may affect the worms. For example, placing the bin next to appliances that emit heat may alter the temperatures, thereby affecting the worms. This usually isn’t a big deal but I had to scrap one of my early plans of placing the bin next to my dryer for this very reason. And what a shame, it was a perfect out-of-the-way spot.
It’s best to store the bin in an area where there is no extra heat or vibrations that may negatively affect the worms.
2. Choosing the Best Location
It can be hard to decide where to place a worm bin. You want it to be accessible but not in the way. If you have a basement, this can be an excellent location. It’s out of the way but close enough to check on regularly.
However, even in a heated house, basements tend to get cold during the winter. So it’s vital to insulate it during the cold months for optimal performance. Establish a regular checkup and maintenance routine because it’s easy to neglect the bin when it’s out of sight.
We do not have basements in Southeast Texas. When I realized that the laundry room wouldn’t work for me, I planned to keep my worm bin in the pantry. It seemed like a perfect location. But my wife disagreed… adamantly. And so, I settled for our garage which can work great.
You just have to remember that if the garage is not insulated (mine is not) then it can still get very hot or cold. On those occasions, I have been moving the bin inside and just placing it out of the way. Take a good assessment of your home and see if you have a small out of the way area where your worm bin could be located.
3. Providing Airflow
One of the main limitations of placing a worm bin indoors is the fact that it can get stuffy for the worms. The micro-organisms require adequate airflow to thrive. This is why closets, although they are a favorite for indoor worm composters (dark locations), are often discouraged. For this reason, many people recommend placing the bin in a room that has several windows and doors that can be opened to increase the airflow. A screened porch is also an excellent alternative.
I have to say, though, I think this is overthinking it. In almost any situation, a worm bin is probably going to do just fine in a closet. It’s probably a good idea to open the door from time to time… maybe at night while there is no light to disturb them… but I really don’t believe that my worms are going to soak up all of the oxygen in the closet in a day or two.
What is important is that there is some type of ventilation. Does the closet have air vents? If so, it’s probably just fine. If it doesn’t just crack the door.
How to Prevent a Stinky Composting Bin
Any experienced vermicomposter knows that worms start getting unproductive when the temperatures drop below 55º F. This is why most people move their bins indoors during the winter. But indoor worm composting brings one major concern – smell!
The truth is good maintenance practices should give you odorless composting. It is usually neglecting the bin that leads to an unproductive, stinky environment. And so, if the worm bin is in the kitchen or other living space, a bad smell can be a real nuisance.
But remember this: A well-balanced worm bin – even with the worms inside – should have a rich, earthy smell. Contrary to popular belief, the worm castings don’t emit the foul odor that’s typical of other animals’ dung.
If the worm bin is emitting a foul smell, it’s not the worm castings. More than likely, there is something wrong with the composting technique or maintenance practices. Some of the common causes of a stinky compost bin include inadequate aeration, an overabundance of food, or too much water.
If you really want to know how to keep odors at bay, read my article Why Does My Worm Bin Smell? Causes and Troubleshooting Steps.
Choosing an ideal place to put a worm bin shouldn’t be difficult. It really comes down to your situation and needs. Don’t overthink it. As long as the chosen location is shaded, well-aerated, and you are following basic maintenance and care practices, you should enjoy good results from your worm bin.
Successful vermicomposting relies on having happy worms, so maintaining an environment that is worm-friendly will result in great compost.
We’ve reviewed and outlined the best worm bins for just about any situation. Whether you live in an apartment, or looking for a unqiue kid-friendly bin to teach children about the wonders of vermicomposting, or just want the most worm castings possible from your efforts, we’ve found the best solutions for your needs. Click here to see our top recommendations for worm bins!