How to Compost Leaves in Bags


Don't think of the dead leaves that fall in your yard come autumn as a nuisance; instead, see them as an inexpensive way to improve your garden beds. Fancy compost bins aren't necessary for composting leaves. Plain black garbage bags make suitable holders for the composting leaves that can be easily moved if needed. Use durable bags made for use in the yard so they don't split open before the compost is done.

Step 1

Collect enough dead leaves to fill a 40-gallon garbage bag. Fill the bag half full with the dead leaves.

Step 2

Add ½ tbsp. nitrogen-rich fertilizer or place 2 inches of fresh grass clippings in the bag to supply nitrogen, a requirement for the composting process. Add ½ cup of lime, available at garden centers, to the bag.

Step 3

Finish filling the bag with leaves, then place an additional ½ tablespoon of fertilizer or 2 inches of leaves on top. Add ½ cup lime.

Step 4

Pour 1 quart of water into the bag to supply moisture to the composting leaves. Tie the bag shut. Shake it to distribute the moisture and contents evenly.

Step 5

Set the bag in a sheltered area outside or in a garage for six months. At the end of this period, open the bag and check the composting process. If the leaves look broken down and the substance resembles soil it is ready. Otherwise, allow it to sit for another six months.

Tips and Warnings

  • Composting in garbage bags takes much longer than heap methods, as it doesn't have access to the microbes that speed the composting process in heaps. Avoid composting weed seeds and plants that have been sprayed with herbicides. These may survive the process and damage your garden.

Things You'll Need

  • Trash bag
  • Leaves
  • Fertilizer
  • Grass clippings
  • Lime


  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Composting For Home Gardens
Keywords: composting methods, trash bag leaf compost, soil 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.