How to Use a Leaf Compost


The composting process breaks down organic matter, such as kitchen and yard waste, into a rich soil-like amendment that adds nutrients to the garden and yard as well as improving the overall quality of the soil. Leaf compost is made predominantly of the dead, fallen leaves of fall. When piled up in the fall, microorganisms break the leaves down over the winter into a rich compost to use to improve your spring and summer gardens.

Step 1

Spread 1/2 to 1 inch of leaf compost over the top of annual beds and new garden beds prior to planting. Till the compost into the top 6 to 7 inches of soil with a hoe or power tiller. This works the compost nutrients into the root zone where plants benefit from it most.

Step 2

Lay 2 to 3 inches of leaf compost around existing plants and shrubs to act as a mulch. Mulch preserves soil moisture and prevents weeds, and leaf compost mulch leaches nutrients into the soil over time. Spread the compost in a smooth layer, keeping it 2 inches away from the stems of the plants, otherwise insects and rodents may nest in it and chew on the plants.

Step 3

Mix 1 part leaf compost with 1 part vermiculite and 1 part peat moss. Thoroughly moisten the mixture and use it as a sterile medium in seedling pots when starting your seeds indoors. Sift through the compost first and remove or break up any large chunks that seedlings may have trouble growing through.

Step 4

Mix 1 part leaf compost with 1 part soil and 1 part vermiculite and use this as a potting soil when transplanting or repotting mature plants. Use this mixture for houseplants or for outdoor containers.

Step 5

Spread a 1-inch layer of leaf compost over the soil surface around potted plants in the spring. As you water the plants over the year the nutrients from the compost leach into the soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not plant in pure leaf compost soils, as the compost will break down further and decrease in volume within a year.

Things You'll Need

  • Hoe
  • Power tiller
  • Vermiculite
  • Peat moss
  • Soil


  • Rutgers Cooperative Extension: Using Leaf Compost
Keywords: using leaf compost, soil amendments, garden compost

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.