How to make leaf mould: the essential guide.

5th November 2013 by Alessandro Maccioni

Autumn is well under way; the days are drawing in, the temperature is dropping, berries and nuts have fully formed on trees and the leaves are falling en masse. Londoners everywhere have been forced to get their scarves on, put up their umbrellas and brave the wet and windy weather.

It’s not all bad, though. If you approach this time of year with the correct attitude then it can be immensely productive in terms of recycling in the garden.

Nothing provides a bigger opportunity for doing this than the fallen deciduous leaves which start to clog up our drains and gutters if they are not dealt with. Although they look beautiful in famous London locations like Southwark Park, Hyde Park and Greenwich Park, on a domestic level they can be a real pain.

Park benches surrounded by leaves

This image was taken by Robin Wylie.

If you collect these in Autumn then you can make leaf mould. Leaf mould is simply rotted leaves that have created a black, crumbly mix. This can be used to improve the soil in your garden. Leaf mould adds fungi to the soil, makes the soil more moisture retentive and it allows the soil to better absorb nutrients. In short, it is just what compacted ground needs.

Fortunately, it’s really easy to make.

In your garden, hammer in four wooden posts into the ground in a square shape. These should be placed about 1 meter from one another. Then carefully wrap chicken wire around the structure so that you end up with a four sided space that you can dump all of your leaves into. Once that is done, you can get your friends and family together and fill it up with leaves. This leaf pile should always be moist as some moisture is always needed for the decaying process to progress.

A cold looking London skyline.

This image was taken by Megan Eaves.

These heaps become a magnet for wildlife. First of all you will see small beetles and worms move in and then their predators will follow; robins, thrushes and blackbirds. If you are really, really lucky then you may find that you have a family of hedgehogs move into your garden.

But what if you don’t have a big garden? Well, fear not! If you live in a flat and you only have a small balcony or a few pot plants on a window sill then you can still make leaf mould. Just gather some leaves, put them in a sack and then leave that sack in the communal bike shed or someplace similar.

So once you have got everything in place then you just leave the pile or sacks for up to two years until the leaves have totally decomposed. Then you have the tremendously satisfying job of pouring out your concoction onto the base of your plants.

Of course, for other types of garden waste that are a bit bulkier (hedge clippings, branches etc.) you should consider using your local private rubbish clearance company. Since the recent storm, we have been inundated with enquiries of this nature so please get in touch as we are more than happy to help. Rest assured that we will remove your garden rubbish with utmost efficiency.

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