Make your own leaf mould (or what to do with those pesky autumn leaves…)

Making leaf mould is about the easiest thing you can do in the garden this autumn:

People can be a bit funny about trees. I belong to a community tree planting group and I reckon we’ve planted the equivalent of a large wood (or a small forest). Most people I talk to about trees are lovely, but a few are looking for something to grumble about. These are the sort of people who dislike trees for unusual reasons including anything from “children might climb in them”, through to “the leaves fall off and make a mess”.

autumn leaves

Now, to my mind, disliking trees because of their leaves is like hating kittens because of their whiskers or roses because of the raindrops on them. Is there anything quite so wonderful as carpets of crisp leaves on a cold autumn morning?

How to make and use leaf mould in your garden:

When leaves fall on your lawn or flowerbeds, you certainly don’t have to be scrupulous in clearing them up. A few in your borders won’t do any harm – leave them and the worms will do the hard work for you – dragging them underground and improving your soil in the process. If you’ve got room, leaving piles of autumn leaves can provide valuable hibernating spots for exciting creatures such as newts or hedgehogs.

If you’ve got larger quantities of leaves to deal with, it’s easier, quicker and more thrifty to turn them into leaf mould than lug them to the dump. Literally all you have to do, once you’ve raked up your leaves, is shove them into some old compost bags, punch a few holes in the bags with a garden fork, turn over the tops of the bags and leave them somewhere out of the way for a year or two.

Just like a good chutney, leaf mould is better the longer you leave it, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll completely forget about your bags of leaf mould and rediscover them after several years.

Leaf mould is low in nutrients, but it’s excellent as a soil improver, You can mix it with compost to improve drainage in pots, or use it as a mulch on your flower beds.

leaf mould
Leaf mould: here’s some I made (a couple of years) earlier
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2 thoughts on “Make your own leaf mould (or what to do with those pesky autumn leaves…)”

  1. A leaf pile needs to be fairly substantial in size, in order to retain enough moisture and heat to get finished leaf mold within 12 months. Six feet square and five feet high seems to be an ideal size. It takes about 25 trash bags full of leaves to make a pile this large.

    • Hi there – thank you for reading the article and for your comment! You’re right that the bigger the pile, the quicker the leaves will rot down. For many of us, it’s just too tricky to find enough space for a big pile, so bagging up the leaves and leaving them out of the way is a good way to go. Certainly, in my own experiments, the leaf mould has been usable (if a bit chunky) after a year, and after two years it has rotted down further and is even better.

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