A yard of fallen leaves may seem like a mess. But hidden in all that decomposing foliage is the perfect organic matter for a great pile of compost. So this year, instead of putting fall leaves in a garbage bag and sending them to the dump, put them to use.
1. Big or Small? Size Does Matter
The size of a leaf pile can make a big difference in how fast leaves decompose. Keeping each pile around 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet will provide enough material for a healthy compost without the pile being too large for its own good or too small to maintain heat.
The best place to site a pile is in a shaded area with good air flow and decent cover. If you have a lot of leaves to compost, simply make additional piles and add new leaves as they fall. The more compost the better!
2. Enriching Your Pile
Composting leaves in fall is especially easy, as there is a mix of fresh and dying material to balance the nutrient content.
Many composting guides say to add lawn fertilizer to a compost pile to help balance the high amount of carbon present in the decomposing leaves with nitrogen. Instead, you can achieve this balance by simply adding freshly fallen leaves to a pile of older ones in equal layers.
You can also add fresh material like food waste, grass clippings, and branches to supplement the dead leaves as needed. If possible, try to use equal parts fresh and dead material. So, avoid the fertilizer and put old clippings and food waste to use along with the leaves.