DIY Network

How to Compost Fallen Leaves

With a little assistance, fallen leaves can be transformed into wonderful free compost for the garden. All you need is a simple compost bin.

More in Outdoors

  • Time

    Several Months

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty

    Easy

Highlights:

Step 1: Learn About Leaf Mold

Fallen leaves make wonderful free compost. Composted leaves contain leaf mold, which has high amounts of calcium and magnesium, both important to healthy plant growth. Leaf mold also retains moisture that, when added to garden soil, helps young plants stay hydrated.

Step 2: Determine Bin Placement

Determine where the compost bin will be built. Ideally, it will be on soil, in full or partial sun, and near the garden. The farther away the bin is from the garden bed, the more hauling that needs to be done. Measure out a 4' square in the ground and mark the corners.

Step 3: Create the Bin Frame

With a circular saw, cut a point onto the ends of four 2" x 2" x 5' pieces of lumber. This will make it easier to drive the lumber into the ground. Use a hammer to drive one stake into each corner of the 4' square marked onto the ground. Drive each stake 12" into the ground, trying to keep each one straight and square to one other.

Step 4: Complete the Bin

Use a staple gun to attach one end of a roll of 4'-tall chicken wire to one of the stakes. Secure with approximately 6 to 10 staples. Continue wrapping the chicken wire around all the stakes, securing to each one with multiple staples. Secure to original stake with staples to form a fully enclosed bin.

build composting cage with lumber and chicken wire

Step 5: Fill the Bin

Use a lawnmower with bag attachment to collect fallen leaves. This breaks up the leaves and jumpstarts the decaying process. When the bag is full, simply empty it into the compost bin. If the leaves are very dry when placed into the bin, hose them down a bit to get them damp.

dried leaves make excellent mulch

Step 6: Tend the Bin

To speed up the composting process, add to the leaves a handful of lime and a handful blood meal. Turn the leaves with a pitch fork now and periodically throughout the season. If the compost pile starts to appear dry, spray it down with a garden hose and turn with pitch fork.

wetting leaves makes them decay faster for compost

Was this project helpful?

Don't forget: Read comments and leave your own

Advertisement

Projects

COMMENT ON THIS PROJECT

    

Sign in

All fields are required.

E-mail Address:

Password:

Remember me on this computer

Signing in

Please enter your email address and we will send your password

E-mail Address

Your password has been sent and should arrive in your mailbox very soon.

Not a member?

Sign up with DIY Network to share tips with other do-it-yourselfers and comment and ask questions on projects.

It's free and easy.