How To Make Leaf Mould

Autumn leaves

The autumn is a delightful time in the garden, as the trees change colour and the leaves begin to fall. Those leaves do not only drift across your garden making beautiful, natural patterns, they are also a valuable commodity – a boon that you can make use of to help grow other plants next year. Collecting your autumn leaves to make leaf mould could not be simpler, and will give you a useful mulch to use around plants or, if you leave it another year, a soil conditioner. Either way, making leaf mould is a great way to close the loop in an organic, permaculture garden.

Autumnal LeavesAll you have to do to make leaf mould is rake leaves from your lawn, patio or driveway and place these in large bin bags with a few holes punctured in the side and bottom or in a leaf bin made from old pallets, chicken wire or whatever else you have to hand. If it is very dry, and you are using the bag method, sprinkle with water before tying it up. The black bags work well for a small garden but you would be better to make yourself a leaf bin if you are dealing with a larger garden and consequently a larger number of leaves.

Store the bags or place the bin in a shady spot and then just wait. It really is that simple – one of the easiest types of compost that you can make. You could simply add the leaf mould to your compost bin or compost heap but keeping the leaf mould aside as a particularly effective mulch or soil conditioner is a better idea if you have the space. As usual, avoid using any diseased leaves in the leaf mould as disease can easily spread. Burn all plant material that you suspect could have fallen foul of an infectious problem.

Mulching LeavesSome leaves will rot down more quickly than others. Oak, alder and hornbeam, for example, will rot down quickly, while sycamore, beech and chestnut will take longer. Add evergreen leaves to your leaf mould only in small quantities and shredded, if at all. Evergreen foliage will take two or three years to decompose.

One year from the collection, the following autumn, the leaves will have broken down into a crumbly mix that can be used as a mulch around the base of plants. Leave the leaves another year and you will have an excellent compost material that will condition your soil and give it back important nutrients stored in the leaves.

Make the most of your garden waste material. Make some leaf mould to improve and care for your garden soil and help you be more productive as a gardener.