How to Build a Leaf Composter

Overview

Instead of bagging up fall leaves and paying someone to haul them off, use them to make a rich compost to use as a soil amendment in your garden the next summer. Leaf compost adds much-needed nutrients to your soil and helps loosen clay soils. Bags of compost sell for a premium at garden centers, but you can make your own from the fallen leaves on your property by building a simple leaf composter.

Step 1

Choose a level, well-drained area for your composter. Drive two five-foot-tall metal or wooden stakes into the ground, spacing them four feet apart.

Step 2

Loop a 13-foot length of snow fencing, overlapping the ends by six inches. Cut lengths of heavy wire with wire snips and wire the ends of the snow fencing together. Use at least three lengths of wire evenly spaced.

Step 3

Set the loop of snow fencing between the two stakes. Wire the fencing to each stake to hold it in place. Use three lengths of wire per stake, spacing them evenly.

Step 4

Fill the composter with dead leaves. Add one inch of garden soil for every eight inches of leaves, or use a commercial compost starter and follow package instructions. Add one to two cups of nitrogen fertilizer on top of the compost.

Step 5

Water the pile just enough to dampen it. Mix the leaves, soil and fertilizer together evenly with a pitchfork. Mix once every one to two weeks while the weather is above freezing and once monthly in winter.

Step 6

Water as needed to maintain dampness. Cover with a tarp during rain and snow storms to keep the pile from becoming too wet.

Step 7

Use the compost once all the leaves have broken down and it resembles rich brown, crumbly earth. On average, it takes between three and six months for compost to finish.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not compost meat or dairy. These attract pests to your pile.

Things You'll Need

  • Stakes
  • Mallet
  • Snow fencing
  • Wire
  • Compost starter
  • Nitrogen fertilizer
  • Tarp

References

  • Texas A&M Extension: Don't Bag It Leaf Management Plan
Keywords: leaf composter, composting leaves, soiil amendment

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.