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What do do with autumn leaves

By Adelaide Gray

Find out what you need to do to turn your autumn leaves into a fantastic compost with this short guide.

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Autumn leaves are a pain when they fall on your patio, cover up your lawn or get tangled up in your flower borders. But they can make terrific compost for your borders with just a little effort. 

Read our top tips for turning your leaves into great compost


If you have small quantities of leaves, mix them well with green material, such as grass clippings, and then add them to the compost heap. Let your compost heap sit over the winter. Aerate or turn the pile occasionally and in the spring you'll have finished compost. 

If you shred the leaves before you add them to the compost it will help them rot down quicker. Some leaf blower vacs will shred the leaves for you. Alternatively, collect them with a lawn mower.

Do you need a leaf blower or a leaf blower vac to help collect your leaves? Find the right leaf blower or leaf blower vac with our Best Buy leaf blower and leaf blower vacs.

Leaf mould

  • If you have large amounts of leaves, make leaf mould, which acts as a great soil conditioner. 
  • Make a simple container using four stakes about one metre apart each way, and four metres of 90cm-high wire or plastic mesh.
  • Add the leaves as you collect them. They’ll settle down and rot slowly into crumbly soil conditioner in about a year – it can take longer, depending on the type of leaf. You don’t need to cover the heap, turn it or add anything at all.
  • Alternatively, put the leaves in black bin bags. Tie them shut and stab the sides a few times.
  • The following autumn, open the wire cage or open the bags, dig out the leaf mould and use it as a soil conditioner.

Leaf mulch

Shredded leaves make a good mulch for borders, vegetable beds and beneath trees and shrubs. It will help with overwintering plants if added in the autumn. Add up to 5cm of shredded leaves to your beds, but try to keep the mulch from touching the stems of any shrubs and plants. 

The mulch will help the soil retain moisture and limit weed growth. As the leaves decay they will add nutrients to the soil.


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