Recycling garden debris is one of the best and most economical ways of boosting your soil and now’s the time to put your eco-friendly hat on and make some leaf mould out of fallen leaves.
Leaf mould is a humus-rich soil conditioner which makes a good mulch for beds and borders, although it provides few nutrients. Richer leaf moulds can be made by adding a few grass clippings.
Fallen leaves can be stored in a wire mesh bin, or packed into black polythene sacks which have been perforated to allow air in. The bags can be tied up and placed in the corner of the garden, where the leaves will decompose and can be used the following spring.
Leaves which are left in open bins may take longer to decompose. It’s best to collect the leaves after it has rained, to ensure good decomposition.
If you haven’t a leaf vacuum which can suck them up, blow them out and shred them. A quick way of collecting them from the lawn is to use a lawnmower, which will shred leaves and add grass at the same time. Shredding will speed up the decay of tougher leaves such as horse chestnut, sweet chestnut and sycamore.
Thick evergreen leaves such as holly and cherry laurel need to be shredded and added to the normal compost heap. Pine needles break down slowly - it may take three years before they are decomposed and ready to use, but they are excellent for use on acid-loving plants.
For the best leaf mould, use leaves from hornbeam, oak and beech.