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Can Fall Leaves Be Composted?

Trying to figure out what to do with all those fall leaves? There are many ways to use or dispose of leaves in autumn, aside from making big leaf piles for the kids to play in. Read on to learn about leaf compost, leaf mulch, and other leaf disposal options.

Leaves Make Excellent Compost!

Fall leaves are a natural source of nutrients that work perfectly in compost. If you have an at-home composter, you can simply add leaves to the bin. If you do not have a composter, you can still turn leaves into compost. This process will take several months to complete, but it doesn’t require much work.

How to Compost Fall Leaves

Here is a simple guide to how to turn leaves into compost:

  1. Shred the leaves with a lawnmower or leaf vacuum. This will make it easier for the leaves to break down into compost.
  2. Put the leaves in a compost bin. There are many inexpensive bins that you can purchase, or you can make your own compost bin out of chicken wire. Create a square on the ground using four stakes, and then wrap the chicken wire to create a ‘container.’
  3. Top the leaves with food waste, manure, yard clippings, or other nitrogen-rich materials. This may have an odor as everything decomposes, so you may want to put the composter away from the house.
  4. Using four parts leaves to one part nitrogen material, create alternating layers in your composter. If you’re worried about critters getting into the pile, you can chicken wire to the top to act as a lid.
  5. Turn the compost every two to four weeks. If you notice dry areas in the compost, add a little water to encourage decomposition. You may not need to turn it often in the winter because the cold temps will limit the material breakdown.
  6. Once the compost turns into a dark, crumbly material, you can use it throughout your garden for fertilizer.

Can Leaves Be Used as Mulch?

Absolutely! Leaves can act as an excellent source of nutrients for your landscaping, and they can insulate plant roots for the winter.

Many gardeners go one step further and turn their leaf mulch to turn it into leaf mold. This is the brown/black crumbled debris that forms after leaves break down. It can take about six months for leaf mulch to turn into leaf mold, so it is not ideal for everyone. However, leaf mold is a nutrient-rich solution that could fortify your soil in the spring.

Other Ways to Dispose of Fall Leaves

If you don’t want to use fall leaves as mulch or compost, you can bag them for curbside pickup. This service is not available in all communities, so check for leaf pickup options in your local area. If you can shred the leaves before bagging, that will reduce the number of bags you use.

Avoid putting your leaves in your household trash, if possible. When leaves go to the landfill, they don’t have a chance to break down naturally like they would in a strategic leaf disposal zone. The gases emitted from the surrounding garbage will trap the leaves, rather than allowing them to nourish the land.

Berns Landscaping puts Mother Nature first. From fall leaf cleanup to spring fertilization, our landscaping services are backed with an organic approach. Give us a call at (586) 756-1145 to learn more about our leaf disposal process, or to schedule a quote for fall yard cleanup.