How to compost leaves to use as soil

sprout in soil

Every fall we gather our leaves with our leaf blower which has a mulching attachment that will grind the leaves as it sucks them in.
This is great for us because not only are we picking up the leaves, which helps the grass out, but we are mulching them which will serve us in two ways.
Rather than burning our leaves, we use our leaf mulch around trees and plants that need protection in the winter months. 
The left over leaf mulch gets piled up for compost, which will serve us as nutrient rich soil for new plants the following year.
Leaves are packed with nutrients provided by the trees they fell from. Using leaves as soil for you trees will give them a nutrient rich boost without having to spread fertilizer.
How to compost your leaves 
Shred the leaves so they will break down quicker, whole leaves take a long time to break down. Use a shredder, leaf blower with shredder attachment, or a mower to shred the leaves. 
Put the shredded leaves in a well ventilated area. This could be a compost bin, a barrel or just a pile in the yard.
Add manure to the leaves for additional nutrients, this is also aid in the decomposition of the leaves. You can skip this but it's a welcome addition to your soil.
Mix the leaves every week or so to allow oxygen into the soil and keep moist by applying a tarp to cover the pile.
Come spring you will have a very fine, soft soil. Apply this as you would regular soil, or use as mulch around trees and plants.
The leaf soil will be acidic so if you have plants that need an alkaline rich soil, this will not be the right soil to use for them. 
Acid loving plants include: Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Japanese maples, Ferns, Iris, Evergreens, Holly, Hibiscus, Japanese grasses, Magnolia, Pine, Many veggies and fruit plants so use this soil in your garden beds also.  
Although all leaves will compost into a rich soil, it's best to use leaves from Maple, ash and fruit trees.
The leaves that have been used as mulch can be thrown into the compost pile in the spring to continue the composting process through the warmer seasons or you can leave the leaf mulch around the trees and let them decompose on their own.

Do you use leaves as soil for your plants?
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