How To Make A Compost From Dead Leaves?


While not all dead leaves are worth gold, recycling them into the compost pile has some great benefits. However, there are still many gardeners who find them useless and take them to the nearest recycling center, even if this means they do not (in full knowledge of the facts but often in ignorance, we must admit) the benefits of dead leaf compost.


What Is Leaf Litter?

It is a potting soil derived almost exclusively from composting leaves of different species of trees. Dead leaves, rich in lignin, are a source of carbon in compost, unlike grass clippings, which are rich in nitrogen.


The composting of dead leaves alone leads to the production of humus, a material which, although it does not directly nourish the soil (it is not a fertilizer), helps to improve its structure, especially by lightening the soil. dead leaf compost can therefore be considered more of a soil amendment. It is conventionally integrated into the soil of the flower beds that it illuminates or at the foot of the fences.


Finer grained, it is ideal, mixed with sifted soil, for spring sowing of tomatoes and vegetables, annuals, when transplanting or for cuttings.


What Sheets To Use?

All leaves are good to use make a compost of dead leaves. Ideally, the softer ones break down quickly: birch, cherry (fruit or flower), anvil, maple, ash, hazel, willow, elder, etc. However, depending on their nature, pigment content, avoid certain species or adjust their volume in the compost pile.


hard-stemmed dead leaves, such as those of hydrangea, sycamores or Virginia tulips, must be carefully crushed beforehand to facilitate their decomposition by micro-organisms.


Avoid diseased leaves carrying microbes or fungal spores which will be transmitted through the soil.


the dead leaves of certain trees, such as chestnuts and walnuts, rich in tannins, should be used sparingly.


the thick, glossy leaves of evergreen trees and shrubs (palm laurel, Portuguese laurel, elaignos, aucubas, Photinias), decompose with difficulty. They are mostly used after shredding with a lawnmower as mulch at the base of other trees and shrubs without necessarily going through the compost pile.


conifer needles are also expanded in the form of mulch for acid-loving plants (azalea, rhododendron…), although even a small amount added to the decomposing pile can be beneficial in regulating its acidity.


How To Make Your Own Compost From Dead Leaves?

At least 9 to 10 months are required to get quality soil. This composting time even extends up to 2 years to take advantage of the excellent potting soil.


Collect the leaves gradually, avoiding waiting for them to form a thick layer.


To speed up decomposition, run them through a shredder, brush cutter or lawnmower, on a slightly damp lawn. This latter process provides an interesting combination of leaves and grass clippings rather balanced in carbon and nitrogen.


Place a large volume in a compost bin or a silo consisting of 4 stakes connected by a fine mesh. The pile must remain in constant contact with the ground.


Stir the pile from time to time and keep in mind that good moisture conditions must be maintained to promote the life and work of the decomposers, even if this means occasional watering (even in winter) if the weather is very dry.



Updated: February 27, 2023 — 11:06 am

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