Backyard Leaf Composting Tips

Many homeowners have an excessive quantity of leaves in the fall. One may of dealing with the problem is to do backyard leaf composting. Compost - the end result - is a dark, partially decomposed substance similar to natural organic matter found in the soil.

Leaves may be composted by piling them in a heap. Locate the pile where drainage is good and there is no standing water. The composting pile should be just damp enough that when you squeeze a handful a few drops of water will appear. A shaded area will reduce moisture from the surface, but if you are under a tree the roots may grow into the pile. If the surface of the pile becomes excessively dry, add a some water to moisten to aid the composting process.

Some quick tips.

1. To hasten the decomposition take your weed whacker and cut up your leaves into smaller pieces.

2. You can save leaves in bags.

  • Take a black bin liner and punch a few holes in the side and bottom.
  • Rake up leaves weekly and stash in the bag.
  • When almost full, sprinkle with water, shake and tie.
  • Store in a shady spot and the following autumn the leaves will have rotted down into a rich, crumbly mixture that can be used as a mulch around the base of plants.
  • Let the leaves rot down for another year if you want to use as soil conditioner.

3. How big should the pile be?

The leaf pile should be at least 4 feet in diameter and 3 feet in height. If it is too small, it is difficult to maintain adequate temperatures for rapid decomposition. The maximum size should be about 5 feet in height and 10 feet in diameter. If the pile is too large, the interior will not obtain the oxygen needed for adequate, odor-free decomposition. If there is sufficient space and material, two or three piles will provide greater flexibility.

4. Making a leaf bin - You will need:

  • 1 roll galvanised chicken netting: (10ft x 3ft)
  • 4 tree stakes: (4ft x 1.5in)
  • 20 galvanised staples
  • Mallet
  • Hammer
  • Wire cutters
  • Heavy gloves

Hammer the tree stakes into the ground to make a square frame. Keep as upright as possible and leave 35"-36" of stake above ground. Unroll chicken wire and attach to first stake with five galvanised staples. Pull tightly to the next stake, attach with staples again and repeat on all sides. Wearing gloves, snip off any excess wire with clippers and bend in any sharp edges.

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