There are two ways to compost leaves. Leave that out to avoid such pests. If you need your finished compost sooner and don’t want to wait until the spring, then hot composting is the way to go. of soil and an inch (2.5 cm.) Depending upon the size of the compost pile that you’re planning to create, you’ll need a large amount of leaves. Once you’ve built your heap, wait for 4 days and then turn it. Leaves of all sorts are a great material to add to your compost bin, though they might need a bit of preparation for fast composting. "This is the most vivid explanation regarding making leaf compost I've ever come across.". The lawn mower shreds the leaves into smaller pieces that compost more quickly. Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume. While it’s possible to compost diseased leaves, this needs to be done using a hot composting technique. Don’t do anything permanent – you’ll be removing them later. Gather all of your leaves up and shred them if possible. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. There are also many people who choose to make their own compost heaps. Constant Delights is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. When it comes to choosing how you will compost, it will largely depend on your personal situation. That could make it hard for the plants in your garden to get the moisture they need". Smaller scraps have more surface area, which allows bacteria to break them down more quickly. In general, dried leaves should be shredded before you add them to your compost bin, and this goes double for oak leaves. Oak leaves can be use for composting too, but due to their acidity, should never make up more than a third of the pile. of manure or another green nitrogen source. He is a Organic Gardening Consultant and Founder of Grow-It-Organically, a website that teaches clients and students the ins and outs of organic vegetable gardening. #3 Add A Source Of Nitrogen To Help Compost Leaves. Easy ways to compost kitchen waste. Leaf compost is a mix of leaves and organic materials, like grass clippings or food waste. In spring or fall when garden waste is plentiful, you can mix one big batch of compost and then start a second one while the first "cooks." Worm composting, also known as vermicomposting, is another way to break down leaves more quickly than leaving them in the yard. By using our site, you agree to our. Shredding the leaves shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes. Collect the shredded leaves in the lawn mower bag, or rake them into a pile after shredding. Bagging leaves to go to the landfill is a waste of landfill space and a waste of a free garden resource. I know this isn't what you want to hear, but the fastest (in terms of their rotting down) and tidiest way to compost leaves is actually to bag them up - if they're wet already, all the better, if not, wet the contents, tie the tops shut, poke two or three holes in the bottom of the bags and stand them out of the way somewhere to rot down over time. This compost has a relatively low nutrient value, but an excellent fibrous structure close to pure humus. Leaves of all sorts are a great material to add to your compost bin, though they might need a bit of preparation for fast composting. Oak Leaves. But often times we don’t have the time (or patience!) At the same time, they provide a good balance of nutrients to the pile. This article was co-authored by Steve Masley. Learn how to compost leaves quickly to make a nutrient-rich leaf compost that will benefit your garden. They’re packed with nutrients that are fantastic for your plants, and are so easy to compost. You can reach her at [email protected], Chanh is our Head of Medical Review. B. How to Make Compost Quickly. It will need to be turned every few weeks, Ideally, turn it about four times over the course of the winter for compost that’s ready by the spring. When you first start the pile, it will be loose and prone to blowing around the yard. This is a low-maintenance way to compost, only needing to be turned every few weeks. You can also quickly clean a lawn full of leaves/debris by mowing with your grass catcher. Leaving leaves to rot in a dedicated bin like this creates what is known as “leaf mold”. Check it every few days to make sure it hasn’t dried out. What ingredients go into good compost? If you want to make your garden plants thrive, … Your heap needs to be at least 3 feet x 3 feet in size. Instead, they’ll form a thick mat that prevents water from entering into your compost heap while also inhibiting how your compost breathes. If shredded they turn into compost or leaf mold much faster, and make mulch better mulch. This article has been viewed 26,747 times. Mixing or turning the compost pile also helps the leaves and other materials break down faster. Many cities have their own composting programs and will use the leaves in the city or county compost piles. I’ll wait! Smaller pieces of leaves break down more quickly. How to Compost Leaves. Compost can add great value to leaves so this is one important use for old leaves in your garden. Be sure to make the pile high because the leaves will … If my mention of the desired sponge-like texture has you scratching your head, perhaps it’s time to brush up on your composting basics? This is a special type of compost made solely from leaves, without the addition of any other organic materials. We know ads can be annoying, but they’re what allow us to make all of wikiHow available for free. Once you start mixing in your leaves make sure you start slowly and continue to stir the pile. Mix it into your soil to improve its structure and aeration, as well as its water retention. You can also use a compost tumbler to the same effect. Raking up dead leaves can be a pain in the ‘you know what’ but things can be made easier with a leaf vacuum or blower. Make sure that you mix everything thoroughly to prevent the leaves from clumping together. Using a sweeper is much faster than hand raking, and a better picking-up job is done. Pat Browne and Steve Masley of Grow it Organically say: "If you use waxy leaves in your compost bin, your compost will shed water, rather than retaining it. Together, these items feed microorganisms, which speed up the process of decay. Smaller scraps have more surface area, which allows bacteria to break them down more quickly. Mix the layers every two weeks and keep the pile moderately moist. Bins retain some warmth and moisture and make better compost more quickly, but even an open heap (not enclosed in a bin) will compost eventually. Avoid adding dairy products, dense breads, or meats to your compost pile. Instead of bagging and hauling them off this year, try recycling them as a mulch or creating compost with them. I used to work as the gardener for a large estate. Let’s see how this woman did: Most gardeners usually rake up all of the leaves in their yard to compost, but this can be a problem if you end up with diseased leaves in your heap. If you want to compost these leaves, here are the steps to consider: Make sure you’re okay with having a compost … Those that are higher in calcium and nitrogen will break down in about a year, while others take a couple of years. This will allow grass and small plants beneath the decaying leaf carpet to continue to receive air and light. Well, make a leaf compost of course! Purchase manure at any large landscaping or gardening-supply store. Don’t be afraid to harvest compost early. I am a sustainable focus gardener. Don’t wait for them to finish. If you don’t have a shredder, you can simply mow the leaves to collect them. Kitchen waste is usually high in nitrates which provide a good balance for the carbon ‘brown’ factor that makes up leaves. Keep your compost heap well-watered but don’t let it get too soggy. Collect leaves from the lawn using a rotary mower, as this not only shreds the leaves and hastens rotting but also adds grass clippings, so increasing the nutrient value of the leafmould. In this article, I’m going to provide you with a primer on how to compost with leaves. Either material will allow oxygen to get to your compost. Mix 1 part manure with 5 parts leaves. Keep the bag in a well-ventilated location for one to two years. Add carbon and nitrogen sources to your compost bin, in a 30:1 ratio of carbon to nitrogen. This means that you’ll need to add nitrogen-rich materials to your compost heap along with your leaves. If you don’t have a lawnmower—or would prefer to use a faster, more efficient tool for the job—try shredding the leaves with a leaf shredder. By signing up you are agreeing to receive emails according to our privacy policy. Things like tea leaves, they're also good to go in here. Store your leaves in bags until you’ve got enough materials for a 3’x3’ heap. The simplest fast compost method is nothing more than good management. Locate the pile where drainage is adequate; a shaded area will help keep the pile from drying out. There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. If high winds are a concern in your area, place the compost pile in an area where it will not blow away. If you're composting and getting ants and flies, then you probably have something sugary or some sort of meat in the pile. Bagging leaves to go to the landfill is a waste of landfill space and a waste of a free garden resource. Dry leaves and paper (wet). If possible, cover your compost pile or bin with a tarp, a scrap of carpet wrapped in plastic or a plastic garbage bag stuffed with leaves or hay. If you really can’t stand to see another ad again, then please consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. The sheet will also reduce water evaporation and keep your heap moist, but it would still be worth giving your compost some water each time you lift the sheet to turn it. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. References. What will really get stuff moving is if you also add some finished compost in each layer of leaves you add to the pile with some blood meal. Oak leaves can be use for composting too, but due to their acidity, should never make up more than a third of the pile. If you don’t have access to chain link fencing material, you can also use wooden slats, like those on a shipping crate. Due to their size, they can hold a lot of fall leaves. There are so many benefits to using … Continued Add water to moisten the dry leaves, but don't allow them to become soggy. Vermicompost is made with the help of worms. Compost enriches the nutrient content of garden soil and flower beds, and allows you to re-use food scraps and other organic items that would otherwise go to waste. Not only will this put you in their good books, but it will also give you more leaves to compost! Turning it into compost will be greatly beneficial for your garden plants and your garden as a whole. The owner insisted on collecting ALL of the grass clippings, and we generated a lot of them. However, if you just add a big pile of leaves to your cold compost heap, they won’t break down properly. This will help to keep your heap warm, which will speed up the decomposition process. Oak Leaves. Place a piece of carpet or plastic over the top of the pile to help trap the heat produced by the pile. Jill is a sustainable focus gardener. You can check the fall street sweeping schedule and go the day before to collect extra leaves from the curb. Use a leaf shredder Bind them together with wire, rope or zip ties. Use the attached bag on the mower to gather the shredded leaves or rake them into a large pile after mowing. Hot composting is a fast aerobic process (uses oxygen), so given volume of compost materials produce almost the same volume of finished compost. If you don’t have enough organic materials to make a large enough hot compost heap, you can save them up until you do. Try not to overpack the leaves as you’ll want to be able to move the trimmer up and down safely. This will affect the pH of your finished compost. Those high temperatures are what’s needed to destroy pathogens. Turning leaves into garden gold? After this, your compost will be almost ready. The leaves from these trees break down quickly in a compost pile. Add the leaves and your nitrogen supplement to your compost heap in layers. If diseased leaves end up composting with healthy leaves, those pathogens will spread through the compost, and then into your garden the following year. They aerate heavy clay soils, prevent sandy soils from drying out too fast, soak up rain and check evaporation. The leaves may start to break down in the bag, but this isn’t a problem – it will speed up the decomposition process once you do get around to using them. Got too many leaves to add to your compost heap? C. Add water after each layer to keep the heap moist but not wet. Leaves will decompose into compost more quickly if they are shredded before being placed in a compost bin. Chances are, these are scattered around your yard and garden, waiting to be raked up. Four ingredients are required for fast-cooking hot compost: Nitrogen, carbon, air, and water. Steve Masley has been designing and maintaining organic vegetable gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 30 years. Hot composting is the most labor-intensive method, but a cold compost heap or a few bags of leaf mold are very low-maintenance and will still give you a beneficial finished product that your garden will absolutely love. This is found in other nut trees too, but black walnuts have an especially high concentration. If you live in a cold climate, cover the compost pile with a plastic tarp to trap the heat inside. You want it to be a similar consistency to that of a damp sponge. Or, if you live near a livestock farm or ranch, talk to the owners. Keep this in a location that isn’t too windy, to prevent the leaves from blowing out of the gaps. The weed eater will chew your leaves up within a few minutes. Not every ingredient in your pile will decompose at the same rate. Try spreading them out on your yard so the leaf carpet isn't more than 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) thick. All parts of the tree contain a compound called juglone. Generally speaking, worm farms break down scraps quickly, whereas bins are better at breaking down acidic scraps (too many acidic scraps can actually kill worms) though work at a slower pace. There are more things you can do to accelerate the process of turning dead dry leaves into organic fertilizer. The method you choose depends on the space you have available, and the time you want to devote to composting. Mixing up the material and aerating it keeps it moist, w… You can encourage this natural cycle in your own garden by minimising the amount of plant matter you discard, returning it instead to the soil. Compost heaps need to be made up of both “greens” (nitrogen-rich materials) and “browns (carbon-rich materials) in order to break down. Here is how to compost leaves quickly: First, chop the leaves into smaller bits by mowing them Then, put 1 feet of leaves in a compost bin, which is 4 feet by 4 feet While creating a compost, for every 1 feet layer of leaves, add 1/3 cup each of lime and fertilizer on the leaves, followed by an inch of soil. It’s all down to raising the temperatures in your compost heap, which accelerates the decomposition process. There are a couple of ways in which you can save yourself this back-breaking work: Purchasing a machine specifically to collect up your leaves may seem like more of an investment than you wanted to make, but you’ll then be able to easily collect up your neighbors’ leaves too. What’s the best way to compost live oak leaves? Fill a garbage can about 1/2 way with leaves, lower your weed wacker into the middle of the pile and turn it on. Fast composting of leaves starts with a layer 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20.5 cm.) They are fast. We use cookies to make wikiHow great. Place an 8-inch layer of leaves on the bottom of the compost bin. Many types of leaves are rich in minerals and other healthy organic materials. It can also be used as a mulch. The leaves from these trees break down quickly in a compost pile. Small thin leaves such as birch break down fairly quickly, while large leathery ones such as chestnut benefit from being shredded first. Most gardeners have a cold compost heap or bin. Making your own compost is a great way to reuse your garden refuse. Some of the best leaves for composting are: On the other hand, the leaves that are lower in nitrogen and calcium that take longer to break down are: The first thing you need before composting your leaves are the leaves themselves. These leaves should never be added to your compost. As mentioned earlier, leaves are high in carbon but low in nitrogen. Leaves in their natural state tend to blow away or mat down into a tight mass. In order for organic materials to break down, you need a mixture of both. Compost is more difficult to make than mulch but it is very beneficial. Keep the pile moderately moist and turn it with a garden fork at least once per week. A compost always needs a four or five days to get going, but after that, it can be turned as often as every other day, depending on how quickly the compost is needed. Also, well-maintained vermicomposting bin usually has a pleasant, earthy smell. If you find that oak leaves comprise the majority of your compost pile, shred them more thoroughly than the other types of leaves to make sure they compost well. Leaves can be shredded simply by running a mulching lawnmower over them. Fallen leaves, bark, twigs, fruit and branches all rot back into the soil, breaking down into the original nutrients the plant took up in the first place. Each pile is started individually, keeping newly added items from essentially starting the pile over again. wikiHow is where trusted research and expert knowledge come together. The method you choose depends on the space you have available, and the time you want to devote to composting. Please help us continue to provide you with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker. To prevent this from happening, separate out any black walnut leaves and dispose of them. Now there’s an easy way to make compost in 30 days or less. Shredded sticks and other dried material like wood chips and corn stalks will help your compost develop quickly by aiding aeration but may not decompose completely themselves. Creating The Pile – Shred Those Leaves! Do check with city or county park officials before you start raking leaves off of public lands. How to compost leaves quickly. The fastest way to decompose leaves is to gradually add them to kitchen waste when you put it in the compost. Leaf mulch (also called leaf mold) is just leaves and water. Composting Leaves. If you’re in the middle of a rainy spell, you may not need to water the compost pile for 3–4 weeks at a time. “Greens” are soft, young materials that decompose quickly, such as grass clippings, animal manure, non-greasy kitchen waste and most garden waste. Evergreen leaves and conifer needles take far longer to rot and should not be included in great quantities, and then only when chopped. Heat allows the compost process to work more quickly, which is why composting happens faster during warmer months. Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 26,747 times. Some include a little door near the bottom for easy compost harvesting. I use this DIY small compost bin and it’s perfect for making fast compost and it’s either free or very cheap, which is even better. Alternatively, you can make a bin for your leaf mold out of chicken wire or a similar material. When you're gathering up leaves for your compost, avoid picking up leaves at the very bottom of curb piles, because they can contain oil and other residue from cars. There are several ways that you can use leaves to enrich, protect, and enhance your garden. Successful composting requires a blend of “greens”, “browns”, water, oxygen and microorganisms. Be sure the pallets you get are clean, without any grease or any substances on them that could leach into your compost. Nitrogen helps heat a pile up and aids in breaking down dry, carbon-based materials such as leaves. Leaves are just one thing that might appear in your garden during the fall. I love decorating my home backyard with beautiful landscape design and creative garden care techniques I develop myself. Just don ’ t let it get too soggy perennial beds as a mulch creating... 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