Create Compost from Autumn Leaves

Reduce your curbside trips and enrich your garden by composting your fall leaf harvest.

Is this the Fall to consider composting leaves on their own? Leaf Mold (a rather unfortunate name) is compost made solely from decayed leaves. The crumbly result is prized as a soil amendment, particularly for increasing the water retention and nutrients of soil. Because leaves are carbon-based, they do take longer than other plant clippings to break down. The smaller the leaf pieces, the faster they decay. Accordingly, some gardeners shred their leaves with a mower before dumping into their storage spot. The good news is this composting process is best left ignored. Without turning, heating, or additives, the leaves you collect now should be ready for use in your garden next fall. See below for composting container options.

Above: Put some of your autumn leaf harvest to work. Image via Flickr.

Above: If you have the space, wire compost containers are considered the best bin for the job because of the airflow they provide. After filling the container (best placed in a shady location to prevent leaves from drying out) with leaves, be sure to sprinkle them with water. See here, this Galfan Wire Leaf Composter is 65Ä from Manufactum. For US gardeners, the Bosmere Wire Compost Bin (below) of long-lasting coated steel wire holds up to 15.6 cubic feet of compost; $53.54 through Amazon.

Above: Short on space? Another favored method of composting leaves is to fill a basic black plastic garbage bag with the leaves, tie, poke holes in the side to let in air, and ignore for a year. If you need to leave the bags in visible spot, consider an attractive and eco-friendly alternative: a biodegradable jute Leaf Composting Sack that becomes part of the soil conditioner. Once the leaves have decomposed, simply dig the entire bag into the soil; $12.95 for a set of two at Williams-Sonoma. For more options, Gardenista’s post: Beyond Sack Races: Natural Jute Garden Bags.

Do you have any tried-and-true composting secrets to share? Please let us know in the comments section.

Also, visit Gardenista for more outdoor DIY projects.


Melania Padilla
Melania P5 years ago


susan k.
susan k5 years ago

Yes everyone should do this , its great for our garden . What natural this make it break down faster ?Thanks

Bill K.
Bill K5 years ago

i saw a college professor speak once about enjoying the little moments of life, and he really enjoyed autumn leaves on his lawn. but then the neighbors complained because they were afraid the leaves would blow onto their anally spotless lawns. the professor was having a group of his students over one Sunday afternoon for a study session. so before they began he had them help gather the leaves. then they spread them on the floor in his living room to sit on while they studied. anyway, just another idea on how to use your leaves before you compost them.

Veronique L.
Veronique L5 years ago

Thanks for sharing!

Dina B.
Dina B5 years ago


Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago

Mother Nature Needs Us

paul m.
paul m5 years ago

Leaf - Mould takes about 6 months to a year ( to rot) and it's free

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G5 years ago

Hear hear, they're also handy with dry-composting toilets!

Arild Warud


rene davis
irene davis5 years ago

great ideas.