How to Compost Fallen Leaves

Depending on the trees around and on your property, each fall your garden is likely to be flooded with leaves. After cleaning them all up and looking at the big piles of leaves, you’re likely wondering what to do with them, or how to compost fallen leaves. Why not build a composting bin?! It’s pretty easy!

Also read: What is leaf compost?

1. Clean Up The Leaves First

There are a few ways you can get rid of leaves in the yard. Raking is what most people think of first. For those that dread the idea of having to rake large piles of leaves together, consider purchasing a leaf blower. These machines make short work of big piles of leaves. If you have a small to medium-sized yard, a cordless leaf blower will likely suffice. However, the higher end models will serve you great in larger yards as well.

If you have a large yard or you are a landscaping professional, you are probably more interested in a backpack leaf blower. These are less straining to work with for extended periods of time, and have more power as well.

professional leaf blower

2. Gather the Materials to Build a Compost Bin

Building a compost bin in your backyard provides a simple way to dispose of leaves and provide fresh leaf compost for your garden. Instead of purchasing a large bin, you can save money by building your own compost bin. However, you will first need to gather the necessary materials and equipment.

For this project, you will need at least four 2×2 stakes or boards. The boards should be pressure-treated to help prevent rot. You will also need a roll of chicken wire and a staple gun.

gather materials to build a composting bin

3. Choose a Spot for the Compost Bin

The compost bin should be built near your garden. Placing the compost far away will require you to haul the compost to the garden as needed. Keep in mind that you will need about 3 to 4 square feet of space for the bin.

You will also need to build it on soil. If the area that you choose already has grass, you do not need to dig it up or turn the soil. The grass will eventually die and add to the compost.

Related: Is compost good for grass?

choose a spot for the composting bin

4. Insert the Stakes to Frame Your Compost Bin

You can either purchase stakes or boards. They should be 2 x 2 inches and 5 feet tall. If you purchase boards, you will need to use a saw to cut the ends of the boards into points. Most home improvement and gardening stores sell the same boards already cut into stakes for basic garden fencing.

After choosing the area for the compost bin, insert one stake in each corner. They can be three or four feet apart, depending on how big you want your compost bin to be. Measuring from the top of the stakes, measure four feet and place a small mark on the board with a marker.

Use a hammer or mallet to hammer the stakes into the ground. You should drive them about one foot into the ground where you marked the stakes with the marker. As you hammer, hold the stake steady with your other hand to keep it straight as it goes into the ground.

You should only need four stakes, with one stake in each corner. However, if you are worried about the stability of the compost bin, you can consider adding extra stakes.

5. Secure the Chicken Wire to the Stakes

With the stakes in the ground, you can begin securing the chicken wire to the stakes. Use four-foot-tall chicken wire and staple one end of the roll into the first stake. Carefully unroll the chicken wire and staple it against the next stake.

As you wrap the chicken wire around the stakes, make sure that the wire is pulled taught. It should be straight all the way around the four corners. When you get back to the first stake, staple the wire to complete the compost bin.

You can then use wire cutters or thick scissors to cut the end of the chicken wire roll, depending on the amount of chicken wire that you started with. Your compost bin is now completed and ready for leaves.

6. Fill Your Compost Bin with Leaves

Rake your yard or use a lawn mower with a lawn bag attachment to gather the leaves. Another option is to use a leaf blower and blow the leaves toward the compost bin. When you have a pile of leaves near the bin, use a rake to scoop them over the top of the chicken wire.

Using a mulching lawn mower with a lawn bag helps speed up the composting process. If you have a lawn mower that offers this function, this is a convenient way to get compost quickly.

After the leaves are in the compost bin, you may want to add some water. If the leaves are dry, you will want them to get damp to help with the decomposition process.

fill your compost bin with leaves

7. Regularly Tend to the Compost Bin

The leaves will begin to break down, creating compost. However, this may take an entire year or longer to achieve a good compost material. To help with this process, you should turn the leaves with a pitchfork or shovel every week or two. Whenever the compost starts to appear dry, give it a spray with the hose. You can also add a cup of lime to the top of the leaves to promote decomposition.