Recycle Bins.
Now you see them … now you don’t!



A couple of winters ago I started to put my recycle bins right outside my kitchen window.  I did this because a) I am smart and b) I am lazy.  Not necessarily in that order.

All winter long I could just open up my kitchen window and throw my recyclables into their appropriate bin.  Come summertime I’d have to drag the recycle bins away from the window to a less visible, less convenient part of the yard because I didn’t want big ugly recycle bins right out there in the open looking like their ugly selves.

My plan last year was to build a box around the recycle bins to hide them.  I got to that plan a full year later.  (refer to second sentence for reason)

I’m not giving you measurements or anything for this project because chances are your recycle bins are a different size. We’ve gone with the super-tall, generally massive recycle bins. Standard ones are smaller.

I built this bin cover one morning while I was waiting for a friend to come over.  I didn’t even plan on building it.  I was walking around the backyard and realized I probably had everything I needed to build the bin cover using the leftover materials from my chicken coop.  Again, you don’t need to use the same materials I’ve used. Use whatever you have or whatever you can steal.  From a neighbour.  That you don’t like.  Under cover of darkness and drink.

Recycle Bin Covers


4 lengths of 2x4s

several lengths of 1×6’s or any other flat, fencing type wood.

Wood screws




First cut your fencing.  Don’t forget to make sure it’s a few inches longer than each side of your recycle bin.  Lay the fencing on the ground.

Recycle Bin Cover 3


Lay your pre-cut 2x4s on top of your fencing.

Recycle Bin Cover 7


This section is for the side of the box.

Recycle Bin Cover 4


Pre-drill your screw holes.  One screw for every piece of fencing.

Recycle Bin Cover 8


Once you have assembled and screwed together your two side pieces you need to attach them to the front fencing pieces.

Like with the side pieces, just lay your fencing on the ground.  Place one of your completed sides on the front fencing pieces and screw them together.  Do the same on the other side.

Recycle Bin Cover 9


You now have a slightly wobbily box.  If you really want to you can brace the corners and run a 2×4 along the bottom and top of the open end.  I didn’t want to, so I didn’t.

Recycle Bin Cover 12


Once the bin cover is in place I won’t be moving it so I don’t need to worry about it wiggling apart over the years.  If the unstained wood suits your backyard then by all means, leave it as is.  If not, then now’s the time to stain.

Recycle Bin Cover 10


Now that your bin cover is stained you just need to slip it into place.  (I realize it looks like I splashed paint all over my recycle bin, but I didn’t.  Well, I did, but that was during a long ago project, not this one)

Recycle Bin Cover 6


The bin cover blends in well with the planter boxes I built and is the exact same look as the chicken coop.


Recycle Bin Cover 2


The dark colour is also a really good backdrop for the greenery all around it.

Recycle Bin Cover 5


I can now chuck things out the kitchen window to my heart’s content all spring, summer, fall and winter long.  My name’s Karen and I am smart and lazy.  Otherwise known as slazy.

Here’s to all of you who are the same!


  1. T King says:

    OK. I’ve just realized from all the comments in different posts you’ve done that we are all of the same mind: we would all love to be your friend. The only thing is, that would be a huge hassle. I can barely manage one good friend. However, this also means we would probably also all get along together. Have you considered having a summer get together for your following? Just an idea. Nothing you prepare except a venue, we bring our pic-a-nic baskets and refreshments, like the martinis (yes, plural) that I’m drinking right now. It would be a hoot. Maybe even a hoot-and-a-half. Add music and we’ve got a hootenanny. Consider it.

    • Karen says:

      O.K. I’ll consider it. I’ll get back to you on that. First I’m going to determine whether taking part in a hootenanny is something one could get jail time for. ~ karen!

  2. Thomas Watson says:

    I am on the Board of my HOA, We have 140 condos and a recycle bin problem. They are red and are restricted to being kept on the balcony. They stick-out and are offensive. Our Trash hauler has no other color. Your device would work for us but with different dimensions, as we each have 1 bin and it is not as tall and probably a little longer than the 2 you show.

    I have been looking and looking and looking for a way to camouflage our bins with no results. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks, Thomas Watson

    • Karen says:

      I’d first see if you’re allowed to paint the bin (in which case I would paint it the cement colour of your stucco/wall with a spray on (for plastic) spray paint. If you can’t then I’d do a mini version of the bin cover I made. ~ karen!

  3. lily says:

    Not sure if anyone else picked up on the bottle of listetine in the recycling bin with the other empties! I take my empty pop bottles, milk cartons, etc. to the bottle depot and I’m pretty sure that I would get some funny looks when they saw the listerine bottle! Too funny!

  4. Travis says:

    In today’s age, you probably have with you at least
    two gadgets right now: a mobile phone, laptop, music player,
    a whatever-you-could-think-of gadget concocted in planet XYZ.
    There are some components of the electronic items which make it a threat, such as mercury and lead.
    An annual compliance report must be submitted
    with the concerned authorities within the specified due date.

  5. Lisa @ Charlie The Cavalier says:

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  6. kim says:

    “how have you set a list…”

    :-) i should never try to text and walk, LOL. what i meant to say was that in our area – the recyle collection is done every 3 weeks. that’s a lot to build up! there is two containers – 1 for glass/plastics, and the other for newspaper/cardboard. so they’re pretty hefty to left come collection time. i’m thinking maybe hinges on the two front sides, so it swings out with wheels? it would throw off the design, though…

  7. kim says:

    how have you set a list when you need to pull the containers out? I wonder if you can put a packet with hinges on the back with a handle in front to lift it up like a cupboard door?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kim. THere’s no need for hinges or doors. That would just make the making of the box much more difficult and time consuming. The bins just lift out from the top. They don’t weigh anything because they’re filled with cardboard and aluminum. ~ karen!

  8. Debbie from Illinois says:

    Clever very clever!

  9. Barbie says:

    You cleaver lazy little thing you!

  10. Evalyn says:

    You do your carpentry work in ballet slippers? One more reason I come to this site for inspiration.

  11. mia pratt says:

    As a note on black paint, there a product called solid body stain, which you can get at Home Depot. It’s an opaque stain that works like paint, so you can paint wood with it and the product will soak into the wood, seal it, and then give you the color you want (such as gray or black etc.) without losing your wood grain pattern<:}

    • Toronto Boy says:

      Thanks for the info Ms. Mia Pratt. I was actually wondering if there was a stain application that would work like paint. I think I’ll go and check out my local Home Depot this weekend! Thanks again!

  12. Salma says:

    I have to ask how do you empty your bins out without moving the covers? Is the answer really obvious because no one else has asked it yet! Am I missing something?!

  13. Rondina says:

    Karen, you have lots of comments on this one which I don’t want to read to see if maybe someone else answered the following question. I see a short eave over the bins, but nothing that keeps water of of them. I’m just curious as to why open bins don’t get wet in that location.

    Lovely use of leftover materials.

  14. Mondo says:

    like two peas in a pod, Karen. I’ve been slazy since day 1. good work.

  15. Janelle says:

    Lord tunderin’ jaysus, put on some work boots.
    P.S. awesome project!

    • Karen says:

      LOL. You people are funny with the work boots. I’m just drilling some screws in some wood. Silly safety conscious people. ~ karen!

      • Linda S says:

        Yeah, we know, Miss Slazy…seems like I’ve seen you somewhere with a gauze sling wrapped around your head, and a milk tear running down your cheek?? Or are you just sweet on someone at the ER?
        Nonetheless, your project is brillant.

    • cred says:

      Pbffftt! (sp?). The biggest risk is dropping the cordless drill on your foot. I don’t wear work boots carrying a magnum of wine around- although, upon consideration, perhaps that’s why wine is also available in cartons.

  16. Marcia says:

    Slazy!!!! My new favorite word!

  17. Reg says:

    Really nice. Bet it could be modified to hide the ugly AC at the side of my house. My nice neighbour would be pleased because her kitchen window looks out on that side. I wouldn’t do it for a neighbour I didn’t like.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Reg – The only thing is, air conditioners need a lot of air circulation around them. To do this, you’d have to have huge gaps between the boards in order to allow the air to circulate and it would need to be at least a foot away from all sides of the air conditioner. ~ karen!

      • Reg says:

        Oh wow. Thanks for the information. I would never have known that. Oh well, nice neighbour will just have to look elsewhere. At least my intentions were good. :)

  18. Pam says:

    Don’t the bins get smelly in the summer heat? Maybe not that far north?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pam … well it’s been known to get over 100 degrees here, LOL. Canada isn’t as cold as people think. :) No they don’t get smelly because they aren’t holding garbage. Just recyclables. Paper, cardboard, rinsed out cans etc. ~ karen!

  19. says:

    WHAT!!! someone didn’t comment on your choice of footwear when doing “construction” with a drill???

  20. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Smart..definitely!! LAZY???..NEVER..You are the most un-lazy person I know…The only reason you would be putting something off is because you are busy doing 10 other things at the time..This is another shining spot in you brilliance my dear!!!

  21. Laura Bee says:

    Vintas! Roasted Red Pepper Rocks!

    • Karen says:

      I wondered how long it would be before someone commented on my garbage contents, LOL! LOVE Vinta crackers. They’re delicious. I’m buying some today as a matter o fact … I’ll give the roasted red pepper a try! ~ karen

  22. Shauna says:

    oh how I wish I could chuck stuff out my kitchen window. p.s., the last thing I would call you is lazy.

  23. rktrixy says:

    This is nice… I live in a rented duplex and we have the big recycling containers (64 gallons, on wheels) – one for greens and compostables, one for mixed recycling. We wheel these out to the curb with the garbage bin on garbage pick up day. Yes, I have it easy.

    Except when it comes to covering it up. When they are not on the curb, they are at the patio/veranda. (The place I read a book and fall asleep in the shade out by the garden.) I want to create something like a garage for them that allows me to lift the lid and dump but make it easy to wheel them away on garbage day. Hmm. Must think some more on this.

  24. Kelly says:

    Next thing you know, you’ll have installed a doggie-door-style flap within the window so that Slazy You don’t even have to bother opening it! :)

  25. ev says:

    Actually, sliding open a window to fire your stuff out mostly likely lessens heat loss also, compared to opening a door! Double earth conscience! You rock! We don’t have that kind of window setup here. The “paffel” (my very own word: Pantry, Office, Laundry room is just off the kitchen, which is where most of the recycle lives till we drive to the recycle center, which is only about a city block’s distance from us. The big stuff (flattened cardboard) lives in a wooden bin in our porch, which is also right off the kitchen. We are lucky to be able to recycle so easily!

  26. Lesley Williamson says:

    OK I’m going to attempt to modify this design and build a box to disguise most of the hideous hydro meter/cable box contraption on my front stoop …

  27. Jeannie B says:

    What a great solution Karen! At first, I thought you were going to say that you opened the window and tossed out your vegetable peelings and kitchen scraps. I was thinking, rats! squirrels! racoons! Then I realized that it was your recycling, cans, bottles, cardboard etc. I tried, a few times to toss mine out the double hung window at the end of the hall. Had to remove the screen first and most of the time, I missed the blue box, so then had to put on my coat and boots and go pick the stuff up from off the patio. But, at your house, it certainly makes sense. Well done, looks superb!

  28. I love your “slazyness” So clever.

  29. Your an amazing woman Karen! Every time we build our homes we always plan for recycling ideas, I am so amazed at how many people don’t.

  30. Darcy says:

    Slazy is, way better, than Sleezy! jus sayin’

  31. Kat says:

    I have come to realize black is a very difficult color for the paint people to mix, I had a very difficult time trying to get black that was not premixed when I went to redo my table. Good job on the bin cover Karen! I think I might have tried to figure out how to put hinges on mine and create a door just cause I am lazy and a door seems easier than reaching in to pull the bins out.

  32. saf affect says:

    Looks slick! I’m all for reducing – reusing – recycling, but hiding the ugly aspect of this do-gooding. Like my adaptive reuse of a vintage ice bucket into a compost pail…

    • Karen says:

      That’s a good idea! I’ve been on the lookout for an enamel container with a lid for the same thing. (well … for scraps for the chickens actually) ~ karen!

  33. Laurinda says:

    I LOVE slazy! I really feel for Advicist- I too have windows that I absolutely despise! Whoever heard of a window 36″ tall & 96″ wide?!
    Maybe our favorite blogger can teach us how to replace a window? I’ve watched it done, but that’s not the same as getting the scoop on what NOT to do & tips to make it easier.

  34. Illoana Smith says:

    Can you share the paint colour of the raised beds/clever recycling camo?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Illoana – I’m afraid I can’t. :( I worked together with the experts at my local Benjamin Moore store to come up with the colour. So it’s a custom mixture we’ve dubbed “Bertelsen Black”. However, I’m pretty sure it isn’t in their database or anything. I don’t think. ~ karen!

  35. Meagan says:

    Looks fantastic and highly versatile- recycling/compost/rain barrel etc. cover! Pinned! Thank you.

  36. Erica says:

    Why don’t you have to move the bin cover – don’t you have to move it every week when you want to take out your recycling?


  37. tammy carter says:

    I love your “work shoes”!

  38. Diana says:

    What about the smell? When I open my window I want to have fresh air, not stinkiebinky smell from trash. But I really like you slazy mind!

    • Karen says:

      Diana – There isn’t any smell. It’s just a plastic box with cardboard and paper and then the other one holds pop cans and stuff like that. All cans are rinsed before being chucked into the recycle bin. ~ karen!

  39. Suanne says:

    I think recycling is so important for our environment….however…I was so disappointed when I saw a city trash truck pick up the recycling bin and toss the contents into the back of the truck, followed immediately by the regular trash bags. It all went into the same mix! It does no good to take the time and effort to sort the recycleables if they’re not being recycled! BUT! your bin cover is awesome!

    • cred says:

      I used to think the same when I saw this on my street but they used these special, side loading trucks- they have two compartments within the opening. They dump the recycle on one side of the opening and a plunger pushes it back and the garbage goes on the other side. If you watch closer, perhaps that’s what they do with your curb-side waste, also.
      Our county (not country) recently used a great deal of our tax money to purchase a huge, brand new fleet of trucks and they now pick up of garbage and recycle separately. Not yet sure how that investment serves us better, yet.

  40. cred says:

    great and simple idea!

    My kitchen windows are above the front and back decks so this clever system is out for me but I do like to have the bins conveniently located just beyond the deck and they’re still ugly. I’m gonna do this, too. That takes care of the smart.

    Because I have children, we deposit recyclables into a small bin in the kitchen and I make the kids take it out to the bins- that’s where the lazy comes in.

  41. The Advicist says:

    Slazy! I love it. And I love the recycling bin / window idea. Unfortunately our kitchen window only has a small pane that opens at the top. It’s always annoyed me that I can’t pass ketchup out through it, but now I have a whole new reason to be mad with the previous owners!

  42. Lori says:

    Nice job!! I am wanting to make something for my A.C. Unit. But I am not sure what to do , now I know! Thanks

  43. KiwiKat says:

    Do you find that the cardboard/paper gets too mushy etc because of rain/snow or blows around in windy weather? Where we are, our paper recycling has to be bundled up or in bags, so we wouldn’t just put the bin out…

    • Karen says:

      Hi kiwikat. Many weeks the papers and cardboard get soaked but it doesn’t matter. Everyone here just throws all paper and cardboard into their bin and the recycle guys chuck it in the truck. No bundling or worrying about mushy paper necessary. The only thing we are supposed to bundle are twigs and tree branches. ~ karen!

  44. Erica says:

    That’s not lazy, it’s called “Working smarter, not harder.” Wish I could do this with my bins, but they are huge and on wheels. The only thing in my yard as big as my bins are the spiders and mosquitos waiting for us to open the back door so they can slink in. So enjoy for all of us who can’t.

  45. Amanda Watkins says:

    That is an awesome idea – chucking it right out the window! Fantastic!

  46. Amie Mason says:

    You slazy genius!

  47. Debbie says:

    BRILLIANT – Truly brilliant.

    Can I ask you a question about your raised garden beds around your house…. I am in the planning stages of designing our dream backyard and incorporating a lot of your ideas…

    Do you have any basement window wells in the back of your house? How did you do it with the raised beds?

    I think I am going to start chucking out my window as well – so much easier….

    You inspire me.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie – I do not have a basement window well along the back of my house because for one thing … there is no basement back there, LOL. Only the original (1840) part of the house, which is the front half has basement. ~ karen!

      • Debbie says:

        Thanks so much!!!

        Jealous to be honest with you….

      • Olga says:

        This is crazy, I was going to ask you a question about your raised beds around the house, and in the first comment someone already asked something about it…however, I was wondering if you put any kind of moisture barrier between your house and the dirt part?

        • Karen says:

          Hi Olga. I did indeed. I ended up using some leftover pond liner that I had. You have to be careful with vapor barriers and that sort of thing though because oftentimes all they do is trap moisture in between the barrier and what you’re trying to keep moisture away from! (the house) ~ karen!

        • Olga says:

          Thanks for the quick reply Karen. For a moment there I felt like we were connected, sitting across the room from each other discussing my next project…That is a good point, it might be a good idea just to use a barrier inside the bed only on the side where the house is and roll it half way on the bottom, so in worst case the water can escape in the front of the bed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Art of Doing Stuff