What's the best way to 'recycle' 20 bags of leaves...

  Aitchbee 09:54 14 Nov 2011

This is the first time I have collected the leaves that have fallen from the two big trees, outside my flat.

I would like to make them into compost.

Has anybody had a go, at this endeavor?

  johndrew 10:17 14 Nov 2011

If you have the room to store them in the open - say, behind a garden shed - the simplest thing to do is to tie the bag tops and make a few holes in the sides of the bags to allow oxygen in and leave them to rot. The tops need to be closed to prevent an excess of moisture as this wont help; although the leaves need to be damp. The oxygen is necessary to the composting process.

You could transfer the leaves to a compost bin if you have one, but the cost of buying for this only is a bit pointless.

It will take a few months but the volume will reduce and you should end up with decent compost.

  Aitchbee 10:33 14 Nov 2011

Thanks johndrew - I will follow your advice. I might buy some sturdier plastic bags, put holes in them, and transfer the rotting leaves, at a later date.

  SparkyJack 10:55 14 Nov 2011

Builders Rubble sack are the ones you need- Much tougher than the regular black bin bag although of lower volume.

  john bunyan 10:59 14 Nov 2011

If you want to speed up the process, some ironmongers and garden centres sell compost "starters" in powder form. The compost should generate a bit of heat so keep an eye on it and maybe thow a tarpaulin or similar over the bags if snow is about.

  spuds 11:09 14 Nov 2011

We have a fair gathering every year, and the five year old stuff at the bottom of the pile is really good, but I would recommend that you 'screen' out any wood like branches etc.

There must be something in leaf, tree loppings and hedge collecting, because our council will collect up to 15 bags per month for free. Which I believe are then put through a shredding process, then recycled?.

  Forum Editor 12:02 14 Nov 2011

"It will take a few months but the volume will reduce and you should end up with decent compost."

Pile the leaves in a heap on the ground. They'll form leaf mould, which isn't the same as composted garden waste in terms of nutrition, but it's a very good soil conditioner. It will take months, and you can help by turning the heap every so often.

  Quickbeam 12:21 14 Nov 2011

It would have been easier to have just left them where they fall on the grass as being a relatively thin layer, they would rot down and the benefit would just go back into the original tree roots. That's how a forest eco system works without any help from us.

Collecting leaves is something that most councils don't bother to do anymore, they just leave them to be dispersed by the wind now. It was an unnecessary Victorian tidying chore to keep the gardeners busy during the year.

  Covergirl 12:29 14 Nov 2011

All good advice above. Here's my two penn'th

It will be rather a lengthy process with 20 bags, but last year I spread them over the lawn and then hoovered them up with the mower.

The additional shredding they get with this method reduces the overall time it would take to compost them ordinarily.

Make a leaf cage with 4 lengths of 2x2 and some chicken wire if you have room. It saves messing with all the bags.

However, as already pointed out, leaf mould is not compost, but you could add them to your compost heap (in conservative quantities) and give them a good mix in amongst the recently added garden waste (rather than in with the compost that might already be ready).

It takes between 1 and 3 years to make decent leaf mould due to the decaying times of the different leaves.

Some useful advice in these links

  sunnystaines 14:13 14 Nov 2011

slugs, snails, worms, wood lice, etc will feast on them

  Terry Brown 14:35 14 Nov 2011


I thought I was the only one who used a lawnmower to collect and shred the leaves. I also 'Mow' my rose branches and BlackBerry branches to make them more compact and mix them approx 50/50 with normal garden (grass etc.) waste.You can also put a small amount of shredded paper (all you old bills!) in the compost and they will all rot down together.Instead of using a compost accelerator, just collect a few worms from the garden and drop them in the compost, the worms will thrive and make short work of your waste.

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