How to Make Leaf Compost


Leaf compost makes up a large portion of the rich soil on the forest floor, which is full of the nutrients that plants use to grow and produce. Recreate this rich material by making leaf compost in your backyard. Whether in a compost bin or leaves in an open pile, the amount of time it takes to make leaf compost will vary from six weeks to two years, depending on the frequency of care.

Step 1

Rake the leaves into a long pile 3 to 4 inches deep in the center of the yard. Remove sticks and twigs.

Step 2

Mow the leaf pile and shoot the shredded pieces in the same direction with each pass to keep them relatively consolidated. Collect the shredded leaves in a lawn mower's bag attachment as an alternative.

Step 3

Place the leaves in a compost bin or set them in a loose pile that is roughly 3 feet square. The pile can be as deep as 3 feet.

Step 4

Add manure to the leaves by estimating a ratio of 4 parts leaves to 1 part manure. Mix the leaves and manure from top to bottom with a pitchfork.

Step 5

Pour water into the composter or over the pile to moisten the material without leaving it soggy. Add water when the pile appears to be dry, especially if the bin has a lid that keeps rainwater out.

Step 6

Turn the material well with a pitchfork once or twice a week, being sure to bring up the material from the bottom and move larger pieces of leaves toward the center. When the leaves resemble fluffy soil, it is ready for use in the garden.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use the leaves from black walnut trees, as they can be toxic to some intolerant plants and the compost could be unusable around many plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden rake
  • Lawn mower
  • Composter or planned pile area
  • Manure
  • Pitchfork


  • "The Rodale Guide to Composting"; Jerry Minnich and Marjorie Hunt; 1979
Keywords: leaf compost, making leaf compost, composting leaves

About this Author

Margaret Telsch-Williams is a freelance, fiction, and poetry writer from the Blue Ridge mountains. When not writing articles for Demand Studios, she works for as a contributor and podcast co-host.