How to Clear and Compost Leaves
Learn how to clear unwanted leaves from your lawn and turn them into a rich compost for use as a soil conditioner or adding to potting soil.
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Leaves that fall onto the lawn in the fall must be raked up and removed to prevent the lawn from looking messy, or worse, dying back from lack of light. However, the fallen leaves can easily be converted into rich, nutritious leaf mold.
- spring-tined rake or rake with plastic head
- garden "hands" or scoops
- rotary mower (optional)
- trash bags or sturdy plastic bags
- watering can or garden hose
- fork or knife
- shade-loving groundcover plants or spring-flowering bulbs
1. Remove the leaves.
The most effective method of removing leaves from the lawn is to use a rake to gather them up into small bundles and then add them to the general compost heap or put them aside to be used specifically for leaf mold. The best type of rake for doing this is a spring-tined rake (pictured) or a rake with a plastic head. The act of scraping up the leaves is in itself beneficial to the lawn: it gives it a gentle scarification. There are various tools available to help make collecting up the leaves easier, including large plastic "hands" or scoops with extended handles. The leaves break down more quickly if shredded so run a rotary mower over them first if possible.
2. Make a leaf mold.
Gather up the raked leaves and place them in trashbags or sturdy plastic bags.
3. Pour water over the leaves if they are dry.
The moisture will speed up decomposition. Some leaves take longer to break down than others; leaves high in tannin, such as oak and beech, usually take the longest.
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