Leafmould is free, easy to make, natural and makes a great mulch. All it takes is a few hours collecting leaves and 2 years for nature to do the rest…
Leafmould FAQs – Which Leaves can I use?
Short answer is ‘any’. However, while all leaves – even conifer needles – will eventually turn into leafmould, the time needed varies greatly.
Oak, Beech and Hornbeam, for example, will break down quickly with little or no intervention – and they make an excellent mulch.
On the other hand, thick leaves like Sycamore, Walnut, Horse Chestnut and Sweet Chestnut need to be shredded before adding to the leafmould pile, or to the compost heap.
Finally, evergreens including Holly, Aucuba and Cherry Laurel, are best shredded before adding to the compost heap. While they won’t harm a leafmould pile, they will take much longer to break down.
PS: Conifer needles take two to three years to decay and so are also best added to the compost heap.
One thing though, Pine needles produce an acidic leafmould perfect for mulching ericaceous plants including rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and (yes) blueberries etc. If you grow such plants it is definitely worth recycling Pine needles! As they shed throughout the year, and particularly in spring, gather them as you find them.
Leafmould FAQs – How do I make leafmould
Making leafmould is one of the easiest garden tasks requiring little strenuous effort:
Collect the leaves
- Choose a time when there’s neither wind nor rain!
- Using a rake or Leaf Boards will speed things up. On lawns, simply use your mower. It will not only collect them, but shred them too and the grass clippings will boost the nutritional value of the resulting leafmould. . Leaf Blowers have their use but they do make a racket so have consideration for your neighbours
Store the leaves
- Place the leaves in a large rubbish sack and moisten them if dry. Pierce holes in the bag; tie the top loosely and then stack the bags out of sight
- Alternatively, construct a frame in a sheltered spot that will both let in plenty of air and prevent the leaves from blowing away – chicken wire works well. The larger the pile, the quicker it will decay. Sprinkle gently with water if it becomes dry
Either way, in a couple of years you’ll have the best (and free) mulch you could wish for.
Leafmould FAQs – What should I look out for?
Be careful if you collect leaves from the street – pick through them and remove any litter or other rubbish
Turn a leafmould pile regularly to aerate the leaves and hasten their breakdown. Ensure the pile does not dry out and water accordingly, especially in hot, dry weather
Regular turning also helps to keep the inevitable weeds in check. Any weeds can be left to rot down with the leaves – but make sure there are none alive when you come to apply the mature leafmould
You should make separate piles each year. If you add fresh leaves to last year’s pile, you’ll have to wait two years before it is fully mature.