Composting leaves

I'm brand new to gardening having just purchased my first house and intend to work hard next summer on making my garden great. I have cut back all the overgrown bushes and I keep clearing my lawn of leaves that fall with the intention of using them as compost.

My question is how to best compost the garden waste I have gathered, I now have two builders 1 ton sand bags full of mainly leaves with some chipped bushes. Should I just leave it now until the summer or do I need to work on it?



  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 13,900

    It might be ready for next summer, but more likely the following year. Make sure you keep it moist. If the leaves dry out , they won't break down as fast. Normal chipped garden waste I would put in a compost  bin. If you keep turning it, it will compost faster.

    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • Thanks, I'm going to need a large compost bin, I might build one!



  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 13,900

    I filled two builders bags with oak leaves last year, they went down by half and I have combined the two bags into one this year. They aren't ready yet to use.  

    I mix shreddings with grass cuttings in a compost heap and water with dilute urine as activator. Compost needs more turning than leaf mould.

    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • Rosie31Rosie31 Posts: 483

    My leaves are a mixture of oak, beech, birch and hazel.  They go into a leaf bin and get left alone for a year.  At the end of a year they aren't exactly crumbly compost, but they are fine for spreading on my borders as a mulch to protect bulbs over the winter.

    If I leave them for two years they go all lovely and crumbly and good for potting compost.

    Do you have a lawn mower?  if so, then pick the leaves up by mowing them (with the blades on a high cut).  Then add them to the bag.  Chopped up leaves will compost down at least three times as fast as whole ones.

    Have fun!



  • Thanks for the advice, I will combine the bags when they drop and give them a good turn and water.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 58,472

    A compost heap built on soil will soon be full of all sorts of worms which will aid the breakdown of the vegetable matter.  No need to purchase worms to add to a compost heap.

    A worm bin (vermicomposting) is more complex, and whilst it produces useful wormcasts and liquid manure, and is a good way to deal with small amounts of household vegetable waste, it is not a practical way to deal with large bags of fallen leaves.

    I bag up fallen leaves in bin bags which I then puncture and stack for 6 months.  Then during the summer when we have lawn mowings to add to the compost heap I alternate the green clippings with a layer of semi-rotted leaves (good browns) which produces a right mix to produce good compost quickly.

    You can of course keep the leaves in bags for 12+ months and they will then break down totally into leaf mould. image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 58,472

    As far as I am aware that is composting as it is traditionally done, my compost bins are full of worms that find their own way there.

    As I understand it, Vermicomposting is something different, along the lines of the Can o Worms or Wriggly Wrigglers etc, which involves the use of bran and lime and a means of draining off liquid.  

    However, don't want to be pedantic about it - composting of whatever sort needs worms image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Is it ok to put oak leaves into my compost and can I use it on anything?

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,167

    The oak leaves will take a long time to break down in a compost bin; why not make a leafmould system either as Dove suggests above, or a circle of chicken netting with a netting lid, so they get ventilation and then either add to your compost bin after 1 year or leave for 2 years for leaf mould, which is v. useful for sowing seeds.

    I have just taken part in the Compost Master Event at the Royal Norfolk Show. What we call A Wormery is a layered container with Tiger or Brandling worms, the same ones that fishermen buy and it is used for non meat and fish, raw and cooked kitchen waste and a small amount of garden waste. The worm casts fall into the tray below the top and a liquid falls into the bottom tray which usually has a tap; dilute this 10/1 with water and you have a brilliant plant food.

    What we call composting is done in a large container; wood/plastic without layers, there is no need to add worms - they just arrive as part of the process. It takes no meat and fish and only uncooked kitchen waste and lots of garden waste.

    A hot bin (£159 approx) is a fairly new product with thick polystyrene walls and can achieve 60 c within about 36 hours. Wood chips have to be added to it. As it gets to such high temperatures you can put meat and fish waste in there; it makes compost in 30-90 days.image Simples

  • philippa smith2philippa smith2 Posts: 8,067

    Composting of leaves works as Dove and AJ describe......a wire netting "bin" or a sack with holes punched in will usually see them broken down after 12 months or so.

    As said, some leaves break down quicker than others .....if you have access to a shredder for the larger leaves ( Fig, Fatsia and the like) that will help the process.

    Certainly worth the effort when you peep into your Bin or Sack and see what you have createdimage

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