DIY Compost Sifter Screen

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In Brief: DIY Compost Sifter Screen

A compost sifter screen allows you to filter through your compost, removing any rocks, leaves, and debris that you do not want in your compost when you use it. Not all materials break down at the same rate, and when turning your compost, some materials from the ground below may find their way in. Using a sifter will remove these items.Let’s take a look at how you can make your own compost sifter screen.

There are several reasons why you will want to make sure that your soil has been sifted before you decide to pot or replant.

This is the best method to make sure that it is free of any potential obstacles, including smaller rocks and leaves, with the final result being a fine soil medium.

In order to help you, we have prepared a simple step-by-step guide to make your own sifter screen.

Keep reading to find out how to build a compost sifter screen and ensure that your potting soil is free of rocks, twigs, and dirt clumps!

What Are the Benefits Of a Compost Sifter Screen?

A sifter screen can go a long way when it comes to achieving a clump and obstacle-free organic compost.

While the process of removing twigs, large food scrap clumps, etc., can be done by hand, you are much better off with a tool such as a compost sifter.

Source: Nifty Stuff

Basics Of Compost Sifting

There are a number of different compost sifter screen models out on the market. If you want to do it the old-school way, then you will need a wheelbarrow, over which you will be sifting the compost.

The other way is the hi-tech spin and wheel.

Whether you built your own compost sifter and a screen, or you decided to buy a premade one the process is not that complicated.

Once you have got your organic matter ready and you want to pot or replant with it, put it into the sifter and spin the wheel slowly.

As Mlgardener suggests the idea is to remove all the things that could potentially damage root growth, including bigger leaves, and clumps of dirt :


In Which Situations Is Compost Sifting Good?

By aerating the soil and removing clods you will ensure that the potting soil has a better water absorption rate, thus allowing your plants to grow in an optimal environment.

Chances are high that you are already aware of the many benefits that organic matter compost provides, so why wouldn’t you get the most out of it by investing a bit of time in screening/sifting?

Think of spring as the best season to perform compost screening, considering that most planting or repotting gardening tasks are done during that time.

How To Make a Compost Sifter Screen

As we have mentioned above, there are more than a few different compost sifter variations.

When it comes to DIY, we think that your best option is the wheelbarrow because it is easier to build, and it will reduce arm and wrist strain :


Using the wheelbarrow sifter is quite simple. Once you load the tray with up to 3 inches of organic matter, you push it back and forth quickly and lightly.

The idea is that the fine soil goes through the sifter screen and into the wheelbarrow while rocks, clumps, and debris stay at the tray.

Source: HLM Products

What Will You Need?

In order for a compost sifter to be complete, you will need to build a frame and a tray (with screen). There are a couple of things that you will need:

  • Four feet of 1”x1” lumber
  • Four feet of 1”x4” lumber
  • Twelve feet of 2”x4” lumber
  • Eight feet of 1”x2” lumber
  • Fourteen 1-1½” wood/deck screws
  • Ten 2” wood/deck screws
  • Ten 3½” wood/deck screws
  • One 22”x34” piece of hardware cloth with a ½” mesh
  • Wood glue
  • Metal staples
  • Handles
  • Candle
  • Paint
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Staple gun
  • Metal cutter
  • Sandpaper

Frame Construction

While this article focuses on constructing the sifter screen, you will need a frame that will keep it in its place. The first step is to cut the 2”x4” lumber into 36-inch long pieces (two of these).

Once you have done that, do the same, but for the 1”x4” lumber, make sure that the pieces are 27 inches long. Lastly, cut another two pieces of 1”x1” lumber, making sure that the length is 36 inches.

Screw together the 1”x4” pieces with 2”x4” in a cross. Once you have done that, glue the 1”x1” to the 2”x4”.

The idea is that the frame is around 22” wide and that the tray can be put on the 1”x1” lumber pieces (glued to the corners of the 2”x4”).

Screen Construction

The first step in building it is to put together the 2”x4” lumber using the 3½” wood/deck screws.

Once you have done that, customize/cut the hardware cloth to be compatible with the tray, but make sure that it doesn’t touch the edge.

The next step is to get the frame secured using metal staples, only to then screw the 1”x2” lumber pieces to the bottom and attach the metal handle to each side.

After that, we suggest that you paint or seal the wood surface. Also, a great tip is that you use a candle and rub it both at the bottom and top in order to ensure easier sliding.


The first thing that you should keep in mind is to have all the aforementioned items in one place. There is nothing worse than starting a DIY process only to find out that you didn’t prepare the lumber pieces or you are out of screws.

Also, you should make sure that the hardware cloth is made out of metal.


How Can a Compost Sifter Be Of Use?

The main advantage of this item is that you will get a fine organic matter that is free of any dirt clumps, twigs, and leaves.

What Is the Best Compost Sifter?

A wheelbarrow may be old school, but it seems like the most secure method, especially if you are new to the process. You will get efficient results without having to spin the wheel and endure hand/wrist strain.


Building a compost sifter screen is nowhere near as hard as you may have thought. With a couple of lumber pieces, a metal hardware cloth, and a few handy tools, you will have it done in no time!