How to Make Leaf Mold from Fallen Leaves

Ralph Astley is a retired gardener from Philadelphia who specializes in outdoor plants and trees. With years of hands-on experience, Ralph not only cares for a diverse range of outdoor flora but also shares his extensive knowledge through well-written articles and social media posts. A trusted authority in arboriculture, he's committed to helping the community grow healthier, more robust gardens.
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Learn How to Make Leaf Mold from Fallen Leaves in the easiest way and use it in your compost to give an additional boost to plants!

How to Make Leaf Mold from Fallen Leaves

Don’t let the fallen foliage in your garden go to waste, and use it to improve the plants’ health. How? Here’s all the information on How to Make Leaf Mold from Fallen Leaves!

Read about the things you can’t compost here

What Type of Leaves Can Be Used for Making Leaf Mold?


Though you can use any or all types of leaves, it would be a good idea to avoid thick foliage from trees like horse chestnut, walnut, and sycamore, as they take more time to break down. However, you can shred them into small pieces to speed up the process.

Use beech, oak, lime, hazel, holly, and hornbeam leaves for the best leaf mold. Do note that Holly and oak have higher lignin (cellulose) than others and take longer to break down. Blend different varieties for a good balance of lignin content.

Check out the best hacks to improve your garden soil here

Benefits of Leaf Mold

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  • Leaf mold acts as a soil conditioner that amends and boosts its water retention ability.
  • It also improves the soil structure and enhances the activity of beneficial bacteria and earthworms. You can also add compost or other organic matter to make it more effective.
  • Leaf mold minimizes weeds and decreases moisture evaporation from the soil.
  • It aids in conserving moisture in sandy, light soil.

Learn composting with these informative steps here

How to Make Leaf Mold from Fallen Leaves?


1. A Wire or Wooden Bin

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Collect and stack fallen leaves into a wide and tall wire or wood bin. Moisten the pile and allow it to sit. Check the dampness level from time to time in dry intervals, and add more water if needed.

You can make a free-standing bin by using branches or canes. You can also go for a permanent large wooden framework or fencing stakes.

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2. A Plastic Garbage Bag

Take a plastic garbage bag, fill it with leaves, and dampen it. Close it, and then make a few slits or holes for air circulation. Check it every month for moisture – if it gets dry, add more water.

Note: You can also pile or spread leaves in the backyard where you are not growing anything. Or, dig a large pit hole and accumulate the leaves here. A leaf pile has to be significant in size to preserve moisture and heat. 

Allow the pile to sit for 12-16 months. The duration also depends on location, size of the leaves, and other factors – so it can be long or short.

Check out some super functional DIY compost bin ideas here

How to Use the Leaf Mold?

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Till or dig it in the garden bed to ameliorate the soil structure and water retention. You can use it as mulch in vegetable gardens or perennial beds by laying it 1-2 inches of it. Leaf mold can also be added to containers to increase water retention.

Learn everything about composting on an apartment balcony here

Points to Consider While Making Leaf Mold

  • Trample the leaves a couple of times before adding them to a bag or pile as small fragments decompose fast.
  • Take the help of a garden fork or shovel to move the leaf pile every week. For a plastic bag, shake or turn it over. It will speed up decomposition and initiate air into action.

Find out which kitchen leftovers can highly benefit your garden here

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