There are many tools for making and using compost. Some compost tools are needed for all composting jobs while others are just helpful if you are doing precise composting.
For the casual home garden compost pile we suggest the following compost tools: a pitchfork, flat-blade shovel, wheelbarrow, and hose at a minimum with a strong recommendation to get a compost turner or aerator as well.
Pitchfork for Turning the Compost
Turning your compost pile is critical for aeration and to speed up composting. A good pitchfork is the most common tool for this job.
You will want to look for a long handled pitchfork with 5 or 6 tines since the 4 tine pitchforks don't move enough material and the pitchforks with more tines tend to be too hard to use on a compost pile.
However, the 4 tine pitchfork can be used very effectively to work the completed compost into your garden.
Another easy way to aerate your compost pile is by using a long length of rebar as a compost tool. You can continuously plunge it through your pile, creating airways and breaking up clumps, speeding up the composting process.
Compost Turner or Compost Aerator
There are many different compost turners and compost aerators on the market and they can be one of the most useful composting tools. The main purpose of a compost turner is to easily pull material from the bottom and middle of your compost pile up to the surface, letting in oxygen and mixing the pile to speed up composting.
Most compost turners are a three foot pole with one or two sets of "wings" that fold up into the pole when you push it into the pile. As you pull our the compost turner the wings fold out and pull up the compost as the aerator comes out.
Many people seem to be split about whether a compost turner works better than just using a normal pitchfork.
Wheelbarrow for Moving Compost
Once your composting is done you'll need a good wheelbarrow to move it to your garden. We recommend the 6 cubic meter size with inflatable wheels you can pump up.
There are two decent wheelbarrow materials, plastic and metal. The metal wheelbarrows are definitely more strudy but they tend to rust more and you will need to take a little better care of them.
When you are composting you will need to keep the pile wet so a long and flexible hose that will reach your compost pile is critical. We also recommend a sprayer attachment for your hose. This is more evenly distribute the water.
A medium sized flat blade shovel is great compost tool for moving your compost pile since it breaks up clumps easily and also allows you to get closer to the ground without taking chunks out of it.
A "digging spade" is also very useful for working completed compost into your garden.
In order to get fine grain compost you will need to run it through a screen. While some places sell compost screens it is pretty easy to use hardware cloth that you can find at Home Depot to make your own compost screen.
If you are a stickler for the finer points of hot composting then you'll want a compost thermometer. A compost thermometer is basically a round thermometer dial on top of a two to three foot metal spike that you insert into your compost pile. It will tell you how hot the middle of your compost pile is and is an invaluable high-end compost tool.
A good brand of compost thermometer is REOTemp which makes several types of REOTemp Compost thermometers. The REOTemp thermometers seem to be much more durable than the Mantis brand of thermometers.
Compost spreaders are machine you can load your compost into that will break it up and distribute it on your lawn or large garden. They work much like a seed or fertilizer does, only more heavy duty. Many of the compost spreaders are expensive and only needed if you are consistently doing large amount of compost spreading.
Similar to a compost screen, compost sifters will allow the fine compost to fall through while the larger compost gets trapped in the screen. Compost sifters are normally smaller and used as a more occasional tool than a compost screen.
Compost Moisture Meters
Compost moisture meters are designed to measure the amount of moisture present in your compost pile. This is important if you are trying to maintain an ideal compost speed but can be safely ignored by most home composters. Both Extech and REOTemp make good moisture meters.
Kitchen Compost Bucket
A kitchen compost bucket is a bucket you can keep in your kitchen or elsewhere in your house to easily collect scraps that will go into your compost pile. It should be emptied regularly or have a lid that seals, otherwise your kitchen compost bucket can start to smell.