Composting Leaves


Have you recently started composting or are planning to start soon?

Do you have a garden area with a lot of leaves or have access to leaves?

Do you want to know if you can use leaves to create useful compost?

If you have never tried it out yet, this article can help you take your very first steps towards creating some really good and healthy compost using the leaves that you have around you. In fact, you can use this as a beginner’s guide to composting leaves, as you will find all the detailed steps here.

We will give you an idea of why leaves can be such a good ingredient for creating compost and how you can use this compost once you have made it. Read on to find detailed instructions on everything you will need and the complete how-to to create compost using leaves.

Are leaves known to be good ingredients to add to compost?

Using dead leaves as a composting ingredient can be a very good way to reuse something and turn it into a beneficial product.

5 ways that adding leaves can be beneficial to compost

  1. This option leaves create compost that is organically very rich and earthy.
  2. It helps to add more nutrients to the soil.
  3. The larger size of the leaves, even when they are shredded before adding, it helps to loosen up the soil and make it porous.
  4. Compost made of leaves helps to retain even more moisture than otherwise.
  5. Most of the leaves from trees have almost twice as much the amount of minerals as compared to manure.

How do you compost leaves?

  • Composting leaves can be an easy process that does not take too much effort and is mostly done using the resources that you already have easily available near you.
  • The best part about using leaves to create compost is that you can either make the compost in a compost bin or compost bag, or make it in a compost pile in one corner of the garden.

Is this an easy process?

It may seem that when you want to create compost out of leaves, all you have to do is lay them on the ground and they will turn into black gold. Is it that simple? No. But is it a simple process? Well, it is fair to say that initially, even though you may need a little practice to get it absolutely right, it is quite an easy and interesting process.

Easy to follow tutorial to make compost using leaves

The types of leaves that you can use to create leaf compost:

  • You can use leaves from almost anywhere, including your garden, backyard, on the rooftops, near the driveway and so on.
  • It is always best to use brown leaves as compared to fresh green or even yellow or red leaves, as the brown ones are the riches in carbon source.  
  • However, do not use leaves from roads where there is a heavy flow of traffic, as these leaves may be polluted and end up affecting your plants. 

Complete list of materials and equipment needed

  • A lawn mower fitted with a leaf collection bag
  • Alternatively, you can also use a rake or a plant blower to collect all the leaves
  • A pile to collect the leaves in
  • Grabbers to put the leaves in the pile (you can even use old cardboard sheets)
  • A compost bin or a black plastic bag
  • Water

Step by step instructions

1. Gather all the collected leaves and shred them up using a shredder to improve the consistency and speed up the composting process.

2. Once you have shredded the leaves, add them to a compost bin.

3. If you don’t want to use a bin and are just planning to make the compost in the open in your garden, pile them up in the area where you want to create the compost.

4. Add your kitchen waste such as fruits and vegetables peels, coffee grounds and fresh grass clippings on top of the leaves. These will provide the right amount of nitrogen to the compost mix.

5. You can keep adding these layers of leaves and kitchen waste and fresh grass clippings in an alternate mix.

6. If you are not sure about how much of which ingredient or layer to add, you can start off by using four parts of leaves and one part of nitrogen based ingredients. This should help to provide the right balance.

7. Each time you are adding some nitrogen-rich ingredients to the pile as a layer, you can sprinkle a few leaves on top as well.

8. You will achieve a good height of the pile when it is about three feet in height and width.

9. You can leave the compost mix (in the compost bin or in the bag) and leave it in the sun. This will help to speed up the composting process by breaking down the leaves quicker.

10. If you are creating the pile out in the open, and not inside a bin, you can make it to a height of about three feet high and 4 feet wide.

11. Place a layer of soil between each layer of leaves, as this will help to speed up the composting process.

12. Whether you are making the compost in a bin or on the ground, you have to make sure that it is moist. However, it should not be wet, just moist.

13. To do this, sprinkle some water regularly and ensure that the pile is covered.

14. If you notice any dry patches, or if it feels that the pile looks a little broken or cracked in texture, make sure to add a little water.   

15. Turn the compost once every month.

5 of the best uses of compost made from leaves

Now that you are making the compost using leaves, here are some great ways in which you can use it.

  1. Keep the weeds away: Leaf compost is also a good way to repel any weeds especially when you use it as mulch or add as a top dressing around the plant. 
  2. Improve the structure of the soil: You can dig the leaf compost into the soil to give it better structure.
  3. Use as mulch: You can spread it on the top layer of soil near your plants as mulch, so that each time you water the plants, the nutrients seep in.
  4. Use it in potting soil mix: If you are making your own potting soil mix, you can add the leaf compost as base to add more nutrients.
  5. As a soil amending agent: Instead of using the compost as the only nutrient source, you can use it to your regular soil to act as a soil enhancer.

The final compost will depend on various factors such as the quality of the ingredients that you are using, the way you are doing the composting process and also the kind of weather you are in. So, even if the leaf compost does not turn out absolutely great the first few times, don’t give up. Keep trying and using the leaves that you have around you, and soon, you will be rewarded with some amazing nutrient-rich compost for your plants. 

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