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 leftover 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 your 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 the 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 also aids 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. Keep it 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.
Also Read: Sustainable Gardening
The leaf soil will be acidic so if you have plants that need 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 and Pine. Many veggies and fruit plants enjoy acidic soil as well. so use this soil in your garden beds also.
Although all leaves will compost into rich soil, it’s best to use leaves from Maple, ash and fruit trees.
The leaf mulch can be thrown into the compost pile in the spring to continue the composting process through the warmer seasons. You can also leave the leaf mulch around the trees and let them decompose on their own.
Do you use leaves as soil for your plants?