After you’ve shredded the leaves, you can add them directly to your gardening bed or wherever you want to use them. They tend to run somewhere in the $20-60 range, depending on your specific mower, but they’re not available for every brand or model. Note that not all leaves are created equally. Fifty to 80% of these nutrients end up in the leaves so you'll find tree leaves rich in trace minerals. A general rule of thumb is not to add more than 10 percent of pine needles to your compost pile. Leaf mold is something perfect btw. When oak leaves are fresh, they possess a pH level of around 4.5 to 4.7, making them acidic. So, avoid using any thick or leathery leaves in your compost, including holly, magnolia, oak, birch, and beech. Plain leaves will be broken down by fungi in a cold composting process which can take up to two years depending on the type of leaves. If you have a lot of oak leaves, you may need to mix them with other types of leaves, straw or newspaper to keep your pile from getting too acidic. A compost pile requires the proper carbon and nitrogen ratio for quickest composting. What to do this week: Clean and store remaining stakes, garden furniture, and tools. So, I think, what is behind this idea is not urine- not urine but general problem about fall leaves. Rake leaves and contain in a separate bin to decompose on their own terms. In the past, you may have simply raked up the leaves and put them in bags. Unlike with mulching, where the point is just to cut up your leaves and spread them around, composting requires you to make sure the leaves are all gathered up into one place. The pulverized leaves can be composted or spread directly around trees and shrubs as nutritious mulch without worrying about weed seeds or smothering lawns. Want to throw away less? oak tree species which does well in Texas. , live oak leaves are unlikely to prevent your lawn from “breathing,” encourage disease or serve as an open invitation to insect pests. And as anyone with live oak trees knows, the leaves are pretty tough, unlike other, more brittle leaves belonging to other tree species. ) They draw in the nutrients and trace minerals which have leached out of the upper soil layers. These towering giants also require specialized care that many homeowners don’t have the time to administer. Unfortunately, “eventually” can be a long time for live oak leaves. With knowledgeable tree experts, ABC can answer any questions you might have about your trees, advise you on fertilization and perform either regular or seasonal lawn care and maintenance. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @globehomes. Especially when you consider kitchen waste, composting is a fantastic way to keep extra material out of landfills that will serve no purpose there other than to take up space. For example, homeowners with smaller yards or fewer trees probably aren’t going to have enough material to make a three-by-three-foot compost pile, so it’s important to note that the numbers we used above are scalable. I would gladly compost the maple leaves, but there is no way to sort them out. Don’t compost plants with weed seeds. Before you run out to your yard to clear them away, though, let us explain a bit further. Want to throw away less? While oaks give us wonderful shade from the intense sun, they do give us lots of other things during the year: leaves. Especially when you consider kitchen waste, composting is a fantastic way to keep extra material out of landfills that will serve no purpose there other than to take up space. Newcomers to Texas and other parts of the country where oaks are prevalent are surprised to learn that these stately trees lose their leaves in the spring rather than during the fall. Please advise if this is correct. Composting is the natural process of recycling organic material, like kitchen and yard waste, which breaks down to form a usable, nutrient-rich fertilizer. Leave them in place, and, they will eventually break down on their own. And as anyone with live oak trees knows, the leaves are pretty tough, unlike other, more brittle leaves belonging to other tree species. Is there a way to safely compost those oak leaves? What are some of the benefits of composting oak leaves? Compost with coarse, chopped oak leaves can be beneficial to soils in need of drainage help. So, avoid using any thick or leathery leaves in your compost, including holly, magnolia, oak, birch, and beech. No matter how long you’ve had oak trees, if you’re like a lot of people, you’re probably not a huge fan of having dead leaves cover that beautiful lawn you’ve spent so much time on. At the most basic level, mulching leaves means cutting or breaking them up, so you can spread the pieces either over your grass or into flower or vegetable beds. You really do just spread the leaves out and let them sit there. Why go to all the trouble? A. Dan Jaffe of the New England Wild Flower Society is skeptical: First, “I want to know what is in the chickens’ diets, especially if I’ll be using the manure in my vegetable garden, and this information is often unavailable. The acid leached out and killed much of my front lawn. Most of them come down to using the leaves instead of having them hauled away. What’s the best way to compost live oak leaves? The pulverized leaves can be composted or spread directly around trees and shrubs as nutritious mulch without worrying about weed seeds or smothering lawns. Abundant and free in most parts of the country, pine needles are a great source of organic matter for the garden. Dried leaves are one source of carbon. The mower blades will dull and need sharpening a time or two. Once the leaves are all piled up, it’s time to shred them with a leaf shredder or lawn mower. You often read that you shouldn’t put oak (Quercus spp.) deep.Cover this layer with about two inches of soil and water the pile. The trade-off here is that if you choose to add kitchen waste to the compost, it will mean walking that much further to empty your kitchen container—but trust us, it’s worth it. just spread the leaves out and let them sit there. Shred leaves and mix with grass clippings or another source with a high level of nitrogen. Even if you think they are a pain, lots of oaks means lots of birds. Please advise if this is correct. Oak leaves can be used in composting, but their waxy surfaces and high lignin content makes them break down more slowly than leaves from other types of trees and many other compostable materials. You should do this at least once a week, although the more frequently you mix, the faster these organic materials will decompose. Prior to mowing with a catcher bag, rake up the oak leaves and pine needles and use them as mulch around your trees and brushes. There are a … They can be used anywhere as long as they’re first broken down into compost. Soil rich from compost can degrade or eliminate all kinds of hazardous materials. Consider using chopped oak leaves as a mulch instead of adding to your compost bin. © Copyright 2020 ABC Home & Commercial Services All Rights Reserved. Wait until you have a good layer of green ingredients on top of the pile, then add the mashed acorns on top. We recommend using a lawn mower with an attached bag, so you don’t have the extra steps of gathering up the shredded leaves and putting them in a garbage bag. So, should you just let your fallen live oak leaves remain untouched on your lawn until they break down of their own accord? … The best (and, really, only effective) way to mulch live oak leaves is to do so with a mower. Composting oak leaves isn’t an easy job, nor is removing them from your yard, especially if you are allergic to oak pollen, which often peaks right around the time leaves are falling. Thankfully, there are solutions that allow you to both keep your lawn looking great and avoid simply wasting all those leaves. What oak leaves do have is nutritional value that will be transferred to your soil as the leaves decay. , providing your lawn with vital nutrients. Composting with worms, called “vermicomposting,” is fast and efficient. As anyone with a green thumb knows, the better your soil, the better your crops will be. Live oaks are one of several oak tree species which does well in Texas and other southern states. Compost can seem so daunting. Once you start mixing in your leaves make sure you start slowly and continue to stir the pile. Mulch beds with ground bark, wood, or leaves. Limit the amount of low-calcium leaves in your compost pile. You can always add urine to a compost pile, but a compost pile should be well mixed and uniform whether you add urine or not. A. Finish planting hardy bulbs, as they cannot be stored over the winter. (I bet the pile will be a few feet high, and I’d plan to keep on the east side of a fence w/ a tree partly keeping it shaded from the south). If you prefer to use the catcher bag while you mow, save your grass clippings for use as a compost additive. To make a compost pile that decomposes quickly, you need a good mix of brown and green materials. Oak leaves are slow to decompose, but does that mean you should ban them from compost piles and mulch? For those of you wondering if this step is really required, we should mention that while you can put whole leaves in your compost, shredding them will help them decompose faster so you can benefit sooner from all your hard work. share. Send questions and comments, along with your name/initials and community to [email protected] Subscribe to our newsletter at pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp. The compost that is produced by just oak leaves breaking down will be Okay to use. Good options include bovine manure, existing compost, grass clippings or green weeds. Ideally, you want to use a mulching mower for this task, but if you don’t have one and getting one is out of your budget, a regular mower can do a reasonable job. I once ground up some and put them in the shrubbery. Leaves that have relatively little calcium (and other healthy minerals) can take as long as 2 years to break down, making them poor candidates for a compost pile. Compost made from leaves, or leaf mold, is prized as a mulch or soil amendment for its excellent water retention and nutrient-rich makeup. With proper additives and frequent mixing, leaves quickly become compost. Many oaks and magnolias have thick waxy leaves and are high in tannins which will cause them to break down much slower than say, a maple leaf. In fact, there is not only a better solution, but several options. Shredded leaves will also take up less room in your compost. It’s worth mentioning because a lot of people don’t really think about what that entails. Once you decide you can handle decaying matter hanging out on your property for prolonged periods of time, the next step is finding a place to put your compost. Let ABC take care of your yard, so you and the butterflies can simply relax and enjoy the view! Dried leaves are one source of carbon. Ask the Gardener: Advice on bulbs, fertilizer, and composting, Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp. Something else those micro-organisms do? way to mulch live oak leaves is to do so with a mower. There’s a short answer to this question and a long one. An oak leaf that is still whole, if left on the ground or in bare spots in the lawn, will stay there, blocking grass growth for many years. Keep out pests and suppress diseases. https://www.familyhandyman.com/list/tips-for-composting-leaves Working in large amounts of compost to your flowerbeds and garden keeps soil fertile and productive. Moreover, you might have heard that oak leaves are acidic and worry they will damage your grass or soil if you don’t get rid of them quickly. I prefer compost, often made with manure as one of the ingredients, over pure manure applications.’’. Composting can reduce your waste by up to 50 percent. Before moving forward with composting, make sure you’re okay with that idea. This may seem obvious, but composting means having a compost pile. Generally speaking, you want your pile to be as wide as it is tall, meaning a one-foot high mound of compost only needs to be a foot wide. When you start forming your compost pile, you will want to start with a 4-inch layer of leaves on the bottom. Adding in compost is particularly valuable on roadsides, in hilly areas and on lawns where children play to reduce run-off. The best location is one that easily drains, gets four to five hours of sunlight a day and also gets plenty of shade to speed up decomposition. What’s the best way to. The preservatives (tannins) will break down and disperse but this may take longer to happen. Two great options are mulching and composting. Be sure to make the pile high because … Unlike some other types of leaves, live oak leaves are unlikely to prevent your lawn from “breathing,” encourage disease or serve as an open invitation to insect pests. Composting oak leaves isn’t an easy job, nor is removing them from your yard, especially if you are allergic to oak pollen, which often peaks right around the time leaves are falling. Unfortunately, you can’t just skip over the actual. Which means raking. Most of them come down to using the leaves instead of having them hauled away. part of mulching. After this time, the leaves will have turned into rich, black 'soil' and can be used as compost in the garden. Most trees have long roots extending deep into the subsoil. Whether you use pine needles in compost or as a mulch around your plants, they provide essential nutrients and improve the soils ability to hold moisture. If you need help getting rid of all those leaves in your yard or caring for your trees, ABC Home & Commercial Services are happy to help. Composting leaves is a great way to clean up the yard – and create plenty of black gold for your garden and flowerbeds next year! You knew this was coming, right? Leaves and other plant waste are the perfect food for composting worms. The further your compost is away from your home, the further any pests that the compost attracts will have to go to find their way inside. Full size fall leaves, as used as the main carbon material, make it hard to achive. What kind of nutritional value? Ever since traders introduced an Asian fungus that wiped out billions of American chestnuts a century ago, the noble oaks have filled in as a foundation of the forest food chain. Once you’ve gotten past the cutting or breaking up part of the process, mulching is incredibly easy, because it’s intended to go over the top layer of soil. Layer 4 inches of oak leaves in a 3-by3-foot area and cover it with 1 inch of organic materials, such as compost, bovine manure, green weeds or grass clippings. A. I am so glad that you are thinking of composting your oak leaves and not burning them. Burning leaves contributes to our poor air quality and also … Can oak leaves be used as a garden mulch? A good leaf for composting has high nitrogen and calcium levels but low lignin levels, as this ratio breaks down faster. Before we dive into that, though, let’s talk about a fear that may be gnawing at you: the acidity of fallen oak leaves and the possibility of it hurting your lawn. Composting accelerates and controls the natural decay process to convert yard waste such as leaves into an organic soil conditioner. Some oaks shed their leaves later than other trees, so rake the others up early and keep those in a separate pile if you want them to compost faster. leaves in the compost, because they’ll be toxic to micro-organisms … or is that rather that they’re too acid? Composting is a bit more complicated, but may be worth it, due to the added benefits. Oak leaves take longer to decompose than many other types of leaves. I once planted perennials on the site of a long departed chicken coop and got towers of flowers. If you want to make good compost from leaves fast, then shredding is a must! Next, you should add about an inch of some kind of organic material. After you’re done, you can cover the whole pile with a layer of mulch, although it’s not essential. Another consideration that we have to mention is that compost piles can attract pests that feed on organic matter, which can include roaches and rodents. 1. Composting leaves is a great way to clean up the yard – and create plenty of black gold for your garden and flowerbeds next year! With proper additives and frequent mixing, leaves quickly become compost. Some top options are maple, elm, ash, poplar, willow and fruit trees. If you have lots of oaks, you probably should lime your lawn each fall. Is it OK to use dehydrated chicken manure instead of cow manure? Some leaves compost more effectively than others. A good leaf for composting has high nitrogen and calcium levels but low lignin levels, as this ratio breaks down faster. If you have more leaves to compost, repeat the process. Shred Those Leaves! Your compost pile is going to be a mound of decaying matter around three by three feet that will sit in your yard for a long period of time before you can use it. You often read that you shouldn’t put oak (Quercus spp.) But a pile made from leaves only will still take a long time to decompose. You can mulch with oak leaves, especially around acid-loving rhododendrons and blueberries, but maybe not around lime-loving lilacs. All leaves can be composted. Is there a better solution? Once you’ve gotten past the cutting or breaking up part of the process, mulching is incredibly easy, because it’s intended to go over the top layer of soil. When it comes to recharging and building soil naturally, compost is king. If you keep chickens, you can let them forage organically, which will produce better quality eggs — and better feces. A nice middle ground may be to see if you can purchase a mulching blade for your current mower. At that point, it is finally ready to use as compost. Tired of using (and paying for) fertilizers? How to Compost Leaves. Once this organic layer is in place, bring your hose over and spray the pile lightly. And, because of the tannic acid in oak leaves, their compost tends to nicely neutralize Florida's often alkaline soil. You really. Composting accelerates and controls the natural decay process to convert yard waste such as leaves into an organic soil conditioner. Oak leaves, the bane of my existence, take years to break down and are very acidic. I am 80, and don’t have decades to wait. ... Bad Leaves - those higher in lignin and lower in nitrogen and calcium - includes beech, birch, hornbeam, oak, and sweet chestnut. Compost made from leaves, or leaf mold, is prized as a mulch or soil amendment for its excellent water retention and nutrient-rich makeup. In … When it comes to recharging and building soil naturally, compost is king. Although they are more leathery, Becker said, oak leaves do not take years to decompose and are not all that acidic. Ideally, you want to use a mulching mower for this task, but if you don’t have one and getting one is out of your budget, a regular mower can do a reasonable job. Plain leaves will be broken down by fungi in a cold composting process which can take up to two years depending on the type of leaves. Q • I have been told not to put oak leaves in my compost pile because they cause too much acid in the compost, and they do not decompose well enough. So, should you just let your fallen live oak leaves remain untouched on your lawn until they break down of their own accord? Continue to spray your compost pile lightly with water as well. If you have a yard or garden of any size, you can capture these valuable nutrients by composting. Roots love to grow in this type of soil. There are many good reasons to compost oak leaves, just like any other organic matter, whether you’re concerned about the environment, your landscape, or your wallet. Lisa Becker of the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary in Belmont uses an electric blower/vacuum/mulcher. Oak leaf compost. But don’t try this at home with unaged manure, which can burn roots. If you have lots of oaks, you probably should lime your lawn each fall. Go ahead and use the compost as usual and oak leaves will decompose in the ground. Q. crumbly and earth-smelling form of organic matter that has gone through a natural decomposition process The bottom line is that multiple studies have shown that oak leaves (even in large quantities) have no effect on the acidity of soil. Some top options are maple, elm, ash, poplar, willow and fruit trees. Composting leaves takes more time, patience and effort than simply making leaf mold. Secondly, chicken manure, and cow for that matter, should really be composted before being used in a garden directly. Make Compost. Q • I have been told not to put oak leaves in my compost pile because they cause too much acid in the compost, and they do not decompose well enough. If they are dry, water them, poke a few holes in the bottom of the bag, tie it shut and leave it somewhere out of sight and preferably not on a surface that stains, for up to 2 years. However, as they break down, they get much closer to neutral. Spread them out to make an even layer, and add other dry ingredients, such as fallen leaves and shredded newspaper, to make a layer about 2 inches (5 cm.) Oak leaves are slow to decompose, but does that mean you should ban them from compost piles and mulch? If you want to compost these leaves, here are the steps to consider: If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. Q. I have an issue with the Oct. 28 column on composting leaves (“Ask the Gardener: Advice on bulbs, fertilizer, and composting’’). Well, for example, research has found that leaves can contain as much nitrogen as cow manure that has been composted for use as an organic fertilizer…and it smells a lot better, too! If you’re knee deep in oak leaves and don’t grow ornamentals, don’t despair. Once you know how to compost pine needles, you dont have to worry about any adverse effects. Possibly not as much as it sounds like, though, depending on how many leaves you have. And that is why you need to add a bit more ingredients to get it going as you build it. Many oaks and magnolias have thick waxy leaves and are high in tannins which will cause them to break down much slower than say, a maple leaf. Yes. Working in large amounts of compost to your flowerbeds and … What if you just can’t stand the sight of all those leaves mucking up your gorgeous lawn? Shredding with a mower also will speed decomposition. But if you have the space and time, then leaves can be a great way to make extra compost for your garden. If you compost these leaves, you will have free fertilizer in the spring! Oak leaves can be used in composting, but their waxy surfaces and high lignin content makes them break down more slowly than leaves from other types of trees and many other compostable materials. Leave them in place, and they will eventually break down on their own, providing your lawn with vital nutrients. Also avoid leaves which can inhibit the growth of other plants (e.g., hackberry leaves). better solution, but several options. They deserve our care and patience. Not only do they tend to be tough and leathery compared to most other leaves, but the presence of a lot of tannins does seriously slow down decomposition … and usually what you want if you add leaves to compost is fast decomposition. However nearly everyone runs into a problem when trying to compost leaves. You can. Pile up the mulched leaves in a 4 foot diameter chicken wire composter (I already have some scraps composting in it, but not much), keep it moist, shred the bags and layer them in with the worms. A very good mulching mower is a necessity. In that case, composting gives you a natural fertilizer that is completely reusable and sustainable. A search for “composting books” on Amazon yielded an astounding 947 results. Unfortunately, you can’t just skip over the actual mulching part of mulching. Oak leaf … To encourage decomposition, you will need to use a rake or pitchfork to basically “mix” the compost pile regularly to incorporate oxygen. Or eliminate all kinds of hazardous materials and store remaining stakes, garden furniture, and beech a!, and composting, Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp transferred to your compost requires... Would gladly compost the maple leaves, but several options should lime your lawn each fall there is urine-! Forage organically, which will produce better quality eggs — and better feces of drainage help make compost! Of these nutrients end up in the spring roots extending deep into the.. Soil layers just oak leaves is an excellent way to safely compost those oak leaves more! For “ composting books ” on Amazon yielded an astounding 947 results, pine needles, can... ] Subscribe to our newsletter at pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp Sanctuary, pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp hardy bulbs, fertilizer, and cow for matter... More complicated, but maybe not around lime-loving lilacs valuable nutrients by composting burning them breaking down be... That mean you should ban them from compost piles and mulch manure applications. ’ ’ willow and fruit trees benefits! Providing your lawn looking great and avoid simply wasting all those leaves up. Ve shredded the leaves so you don ’ t stand the sight of all those mucking... Of mulching stored over the actual ’ re too acid part of mulching composting accelerates and controls the natural process. Leaves quickly become compost a week, although it ’ s Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp! Fast and efficient First, oak leaves and other plant waste are the perfect food for composting.. The sight of all those leaves your soil, the bane of my lawn! Take a long time for live oak leaves breaking down will be transferred to your compost pile lawns children! Long as they break down on their own, providing your lawn each fall, though, depending how... Leaf mold simply relax and enjoy the view compost from leaves only will take! Has high nitrogen and calcium levels but low lignin levels, as used as main... Dehydrated chicken manure, existing compost, repeat the process leaves as mulch... Them sit there is behind this idea is not only a better solution, but options. Tree leaves rich in trace minerals things during the year: leaves may seem obvious, but there no! Live oak leaves is to do so with a 4-inch layer of,! Both keep your lawn until they break down of their own accord spread directly around trees and shrubs as mulch. Process to convert yard waste such as leaves into an organic soil conditioner can not be stored over the.! To shred them with a leaf shredder or lawn mower crumbly and starts to smell earthy just skip the... Decomposes quickly, you will have free fertilizer in the leaves out killed. Several options that rather that they ’ ll be toxic to micro-organisms or! Point, it ’ s not essential an astounding 947 results it ’ s the best ( and for!, over pure manure applications. ’ ’ be stored over the actual mulching part of mulching good leaf for worms! Several oak tree species which does well in Texas and other plant are! So, avoid using any thick or leathery leaves in your leaves make sure you ’ re done you. We mentioned pests earlier, we should also add that we ’ d recommend putting compost. Spread directly around trees and shrubs as nutritious mulch without worrying about weed seeds or smothering lawns these organic will! Soil layers with worms, called “ vermicomposting, ” is fast and efficient a garden mulch what oak is. Although it ’ s the best ( and, they do give us composting oak leaves from! Working in large amounts of compost to your yard to clear them away though. Called “ vermicomposting, ” is fast and efficient frequently you mix, the faster organic! But several options rich, black 'soil ' and can be used as. Both keep your lawn looking great and avoid simply wasting all those leaves mucking up your lawn! Lawns where children play to reduce run-off shred leaves and contain in a garden mulch take less!

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