In Brief: How To Compost Leaves
If you are looking for a way to use all of the falling leaves you have in your garden, then composting them should be on the top of your list. If you were unaware that you could compost leaves, you are not alone! Many people don’t think it is possible, but it is nature’s natural compost! Here we take a look at how you can compost leaves in your pile at home.
Composting leaves might be easier than you think. The process has only 4 simple steps and will give you rich compost to fertilize your entire garden.
The best part about it is that it uses the leaves that are already in your yard – no need to buy anything extra! Here is everything you need to know about how to compost leaves.
Benefits Of Putting Leaves In Compost
Leaves are a natural source of adding valuable nutrients to your compost. They are easily accessible, and by composting them instead of throwing them away, you also manage to recycle them and lower your carbon footprint.
Some types of leaves are rich in numerous nutrients and can decompose very quickly in your compost heap.
Composting leaves will result in an earthy, dark, and rich matter that can be used exactly as you would use soil.
Furthermore, adding this compost to your garden helps loosen the compacted earth.
Additionally, if you decide to use the compost as mulch or as a top layer on your soil, this will deter weeds from growing. Plus, it retains moisture, hydrating your plants even during dry seasons.
Possible Issues With Putting Leaves In Compost Pile
Firstly, it is important to know that some leaves are better than other types in terms of the length of time that they are good for composting.
All fruit and nut trees, along with maple, beech, birch, and ash, are the best types of leaves you can find for your compost heap. Apart from decomposing very quickly, they offer a wide, balanced range of nutrients.
Waxy or tough leaves from trees such as ginkgo and magnolia might take years to decompose. As a result, they are not usually added to compost leaves.
Oak leaves are acidic, so it’s best to add these in moderation (up to 20%).
Another possible issue is whether you have diseased leaves. It is not a good idea to add them to a winter compost pile, as you need a higher temperature to kill the pathogens.
Otherwise, the pathogens infect your compost and then spread to the entire garden.
How To Compost Leaves
There are 4 main steps when it comes to composting leaves.
Firstly, you need to collect the leaves according to the guidelines above. Make sure you avoid those that take unnecessarily long to decompose or the acidic oak leaves.
The second step is to shred them. If you want to finish your compost in a relatively short time, shredding the leaves is a step you must go through.
The whole leaves might take longer than expected to decompose, perhaps even longer than 2 years.
Shredded leaves, however, break down much quicker once you add them to the compost pile. This is because the smaller pieces of leaves compost quicker, and they deteriorate very quickly.
Here is a quick video demonstrating exactly how to use leaves in your composting process:
You can shred the leaves using different machinery, such as a leaf shredder or a mower if necessary. All you need to do is put the leaves in a row and then mow them.
If your mower has a bagging attachment, that will make your job even easier. Once the leaves are shredded, put them in your compost pile.
Whether you’ve composted materials before or not, you should know that each quickly decomposing heap of compost must contain a source of nitrogen, too.
A pile of pure leaves will also decompose in time, but it will be much quicker to add other materials.
Nitrogen helps increase the temperature and breaks down airy, dry materials, such as leaves. Some examples of materials you can add include eggshells, veggie and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, and even grass clippings.
Finally, the last step is to add oxygen to the pile. This is the last required component of composting.
All you need to do to supply oxygen to your pile is to mix your pile regularly, ideally once per week! This ensures that there is enough oxygen for your compost.
Additionally, if you notice that your ingredients are quite dry, sprinkle a bit of water on it. It should reach the consistency of a wrung wet sponge, and anything drier or wetter than that will slow down or stop the decomposition.
Composting leaves is not only a sensible choice when it comes to organic compost, but it is also a great idea to nourish your garden.
On top of everything, the process is extremely simple, so it should go straight to your priority list.