You’ve got a lot of fall projects on your to-do list that can’t be put off until winter. One of these is getting rid of the fallen leaves on your property. Don’t stuff all those leaves in bags to be hauled off to the landfill – let nature do the work! Leaf composting makes fall clean-up easier because it allows the natural decay of leaves to take its course. Best of all, composting leaves provides you with wonderful fertilizer for your garden next spring.
The Grounds Guys® have put together this list of best practices to make your leaf composting project a success this fall.
How to Compost Leaves
- Enclose your compost heap: Commercial leaf composting bins serve as an enclosure to keep the pile out of sight and protected from animals. You can also build your own composting box with wood and chicken wire or wire mesh.
- Locate your compost pile conveniently: Keep your bin near the house so you can access it quickly, whether to rotate it or add kitchen scraps. Both sunny and shady spots are acceptable for a compost pile. Either way, the microbes eating organic waste will generate heat.
- Add the proper ingredients: You can accelerate the composting rate by supplying chopped fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, tea bags, and coffee grounds from your kitchen. However, keep meat, dairy, bones, and processed food out of the compost pile to avoid attracting animals.
- Store kitchen scraps properly: Keep an airtight scrap pail on your kitchen counter or a bag of waste in the fridge or freezer. These techniques prevent fruit flies and odors.
- Maintain a good balance: The ideal ratio for composting is three-parts brown (leaves, shredded paper, or cardboard) to one-part green (kitchen scraps). To maintain this ratio, keep a bin of leaves next to your compost pile year round. Each time you empty your bin of kitchen scraps, cover the addition with a few handfuls of browns.
- Ensure optimal moisture: The contents of your compost pile should remain slightly damp at all times. Aim for the moisture of a wrung-out sponge. If the pile starts drying out, add water from the hose. If wet weather makes it too soggy, mix in more browns.
- Aerate regularly: Air circulation is important for the composting process. Stir up or rotate the pile once a week with a compost aerator, pitchfork, or soil tiller. This prevents organics from breaking down without oxygen, which causes odors.
- Add worms: With this addition, your compost pile will mature faster, require less turning, and yield the most nutrient-rich fertilizer possible. The type of worms you add is important – opt for red wiggler worms, formally known as Eisenia fetida, which are better at composting than ordinary earthworms from your yard.
- Let your compost cure: Adding unfinished compost to your garden will cause the decomposing material to fight your plants for nitrogen and oxygen in the soil, resulting in stunted growth. The curing period adds four to eight weeks to the composting process, but it’s important to maximize results. Mature compost is dark brown, earthy-smelling, and homogenous, with no recognizable ingredients. It also no longer heats up after turning because it has completely decomposed.
Schedule Fall Clean-up with The Grounds Guys
If you have any questions about composting leaves, or you need help with fall cleanup, The Grounds Guys are here for you! We’ll help you make the most of your yard by turning your browns and greens into garden gold.
For more information about our yard clean-up services, or to schedule an appointment, please contact us today.