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Don’t throw away your leaves: turn over a new leaf and make your own leafmould.

The weekend’s wind and rain will have done little to cheer the gardening fraternity, but there is some good news. Whilst the howling gales may have stripped the last remaining leaves from the deciduous trees; those leaves, when composted properly, can deliver a nutrient-packed, versatile and cost-free addition to the garden store cupboard. When rotted down and dug into borders leafmould can help to feed and boost the condition of soil. What’s more, leafmould can also help to lighten heavy clay soils, and bind dry soil together, making it more moisture-retentive. So don’t go throwing those leaves away: compost them using Ladybrook Nursery’s top leafmould-making tips.

Making leafmould

  • Leafmould is very easy to make; however, it’s should be remembered that it can take up to a couple of years for the leaves to break down properly and leave you with a rich, crumbly mix.
  • Rake up the leaves in and around your garden, preferably on a dry still day.
  • If any leaves are left on the lawn, run a mower over them to break them down. The added grass clippings will only add extra nutrients to the final leafmould mix.
  • If you intend to compost your leaves using a bin liner or carrier bags, then make holes in the plastic, fill with leaves and add some water. Tie the bags up and wait for the leaves to break down.
  • If you intend to compost using post-and-mesh bin, fill with leaves and add some water to speed up the decaying process. Once the bin is full, cover with a 5 cm layer of soil.

Which leaves can you use to make leafmould?

All fallen leaves can be composted, but some can take longer than others to break down.

  • Oak, alder, beech and hornbeam are the fastest leaves to decay: sycamore, horse chestnut and sweet chestnut can take a little longer.
  • Evergreen leaves such as holly, laurel and Acuba japonica are better shredded before adding to the compost.
  • Pine needles are acidic, and are ideal for mulching ericaceous plants like blueberries and rhododendrons.

Why can’t you leave the leaves where they fall?

  • Fallen leaves can become treacherous and slippy when they freeze on wooden decking and walkways.
  • Fallen leaves will congregate in corners when the winds blow, and these can make tempting refuges for unwanted pests.
  • Leaves can turn grass yellow if they are left where they fall. What’s more fallen leaves can kill of grass in patches if they are not removed.

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