How to Compost Leaves

What You'll Need
Mulching bin

Learning to compost leaves is a great way to clean the leaves from your yard and create organic potting material at the same time. With the current push for recycling and greening the earth, this is a great way that you can do your part to reduce waste and recycle something that you would otherwise waste.

Having a raking party with family and friends can be a great way to get a leaf composting pile started. If you have a small yard, a traditional lawn rake will be your best method of leaf removal. However, if you have more land or want some help lifting the leaves once they are gathered, you may want to consider investing in one of the many specialized tools created for this purpose. Check out your options at your local home improvement or gardening store.

Here’s how to get started composting your leaves now:

Step 1 – Rake Your Leaves

Rake all the leaves in your yard with the exception of oak leaves. If you have oak trees you will have to run them through a shredder first, though any other kinds of leaves that accumulate in your garden will make great garden compost. It is important to remove the leaves quickly from your yard so as not to yellow the grass underneath and make it prone to disease.

Step 2 – Remove Leaves from Your Flower Beds

It is important to get the leaves out of your flower beds. If left there, these can damage grass and smother small plants.

Step 3 – Sweep Patios & Walkways

Use a broom to sweep any walkways or patios and move the leaves to the compost bin.

Step 4 – Shred Waxy Leaves

Any large, waxy leaves will take longer to break down in a compost bin. Oak leaves and any other leaves with a waxy appearance will need to be shredded or pulverized to accelerate their decomposition.

Step 5 – Add Leaves to Mulching Bin

Add all the leaves and other organic matter to your mulching bin. Some leaves rot down more slowly than others so it is best to compost large quantities alone. Using rotted leaves is also a good addition to your compost and soil mixes, so do not be discouraged if some of your leaves are not composted completely as they can still provide valuable nutrients to your garden.

Step 6 – Use Compost

Once the leaves have decomposed into compost, usually about 3 to 6 months depending on the weather in your area, you can use this compost for a variety of applications in your garden or yard. It can be mixed into your gardening or potting soil for nutrients for your plants in the place of fertilizer, or it can be used to mulch around plants or bushes in your garden. This all natural, nutrient-packed compost will help your plants grow and thrive all year using only the waste you would otherwise dispose of.