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. What are some of the benefits of composting 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. 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. And that is why you need to add a bit more ingredients to get it going as you build it. Q. I have an issue with the Oct. 28 column on composting leaves (“Ask the Gardener: Advice on bulbs, fertilizer, and composting’’). 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. Oak leaves are slow to decompose, but does that mean you should ban them from compost piles and mulch? Oak leaves can be tricky, because of the natural preservatives in these leaves, so, oak leaves need mixing in with a larger pile of other leaves. Full size fall leaves, as used as the main carbon material, make it hard to achive. Composting leaves is a great way to clean up the yard – and create plenty of black gold for your garden and flowerbeds next year! Make Compost. Oak leaves take longer to decompose than many other types of leaves. You can. deep.Cover this layer with about two inches of soil and water the pile. 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. If you keep chickens, you can let them forage organically, which will produce better quality eggs — and better feces. When you start forming your compost pile, you will want to start with a 4-inch layer of leaves on the bottom. Oak leaves are slow to decompose, but does that mean you should ban them from compost piles and mulch? Oak leaf compost. If you have a yard or garden of any size, you can capture these valuable nutrients by composting. What’s the best way to compost live oak leaves? Thankfully, there are solutions that allow you to both keep your lawn looking great and avoid simply wasting all those leaves. A good leaf for composting has high nitrogen and calcium levels but low lignin levels, as this ratio breaks down faster. Adding compost to your soil will encourage it to produce micro-organisms that not only enrich soil that’s already doing fine, but also help poor soil to regenerate. If you want to compost these leaves, here are the steps to consider: If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. A. I am so glad that you are thinking of composting your oak leaves and not burning them. … 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. Want to throw away less? Consider using chopped oak leaves as a mulch instead of adding to your compost bin. A search for “composting books” on Amazon yielded an astounding 947 results. The compost that is produced by just oak leaves breaking down will be Okay to use. Roots love to grow in this type of soil. What if you just can’t stand the sight of all those leaves mucking up your gorgeous lawn? 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. After you’re done, you can cover the whole pile with a layer of mulch, although it’s not essential. Want to throw away less? To encourage decomposition, you will need to use a rake or pitchfork to basically “mix” the compost pile regularly to incorporate oxygen. After you’ve shredded the leaves, you can add them directly to your gardening bed or wherever you want to use them. And as anyone with live oak trees knows, the leaves are pretty tough, unlike other, more brittle leaves belonging to other tree species. Rake them loose and mulch. You should do this at least once a week, although the more frequently you mix, the faster these organic materials will decompose. If you’re knee deep in oak leaves and don’t grow ornamentals, don’t despair. 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. Good options include bovine manure, existing compost, grass clippings or green weeds. way to mulch live oak leaves is to do so with a mower. Next, you should add about an inch of some kind of organic material. 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. Ask the Gardener: Advice on bulbs, fertilizer, and composting, Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp. A. If you have lots of oaks, you probably should lime your lawn each fall. 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. Limit the amount of low-calcium leaves in your compost pile. When oak leaves are fresh, they possess a pH level of around 4.5 to 4.7, making them acidic. Composting accelerates and controls the natural decay process to convert yard waste such as leaves into an organic soil conditioner. Q. 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.) The short answer is that, yes, oak leaves are acidic. 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. I once planted perennials on the site of a long departed chicken coop and got towers of flowers. leaves in the compost, because they’ll be toxic to micro-organisms … or is that rather that they’re too acid? With proper additives and frequent mixing, leaves quickly become 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. Compost made from leaves, or leaf mold, is prized as a mulch or soil amendment for its excellent water retention and nutrient-rich makeup. 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. Be sure to make the pile high because … 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. 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. If you compost these leaves, you will have free fertilizer in the spring! Working in large amounts of compost to your flowerbeds and garden keeps soil fertile and productive. A compost pile requires the proper carbon and nitrogen ratio for quickest composting. They draw in the nutrients and trace minerals which have leached out of the upper soil layers. Working in large amounts of compost to your flowerbeds and … They can be used anywhere as long as they’re first broken down into compost. 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. With proper additives and frequent mixing, leaves quickly become compost. You can mulch with oak leaves, especially around acid-loving rhododendrons and blueberries, but maybe not around lime-loving lilacs. 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. Composting accelerates and controls the natural decay process to convert yard waste such as leaves into an organic soil conditioner. 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 will need to continue the above processes and wait until the pile turns dark brown and crumbly and starts to smell earthy. Don’t compost plants with weed seeds. Shred leaves and mix with grass clippings or another source with a high level of nitrogen. There’s a short answer to this question and a long one. Unfortunately, you can’t just skip over the actual mulching part of mulching. 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. 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. 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. 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. Lisa Becker of the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary in Belmont uses an electric blower/vacuum/mulcher. Two great options are mulching and composting. A compost pile requires the proper carbon and nitrogen ratio for quickest composting. But don’t try this at home with unaged manure, which can burn roots. You really. If you have lots of oaks, you probably should lime your lawn each fall. 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. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @globehomes. So, I think, what is behind this idea is not urine- not urine but general problem about fall leaves. Leave them in place, and, they will eventually break down on their own. There are a … , providing your lawn with vital nutrients. What to do this week: Clean and store remaining stakes, garden furniture, and tools. Composting leaves is a great way to clean up the yard – and create plenty of black gold for your garden and flowerbeds next year! 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. 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. You often read that you shouldn’t put oak (Quercus spp.) leaves in the compost, because they’ll be toxic to micro-organisms … or is that rather that they’re too acid? 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. 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. Leaf mold is something perfect btw. Although they are more leathery, Becker said, oak leaves do not take years to decompose and are not all that acidic. While oaks give us wonderful shade from the intense sun, they do give us lots of other things during the year: leaves. Composting is a bit more complicated, but may be worth it, due to the added benefits. What oak leaves do have is nutritional value that will be transferred to your soil as the leaves decay. Fifty to 80% of these nutrients end up in the leaves so you'll find tree leaves rich in trace minerals. A very good mulching mower is a necessity. Note that not all leaves are created equally. What exactly does it mean to mulch leaves? 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. I once ground up some and put them in the shrubbery. What kind of nutritional value? And as anyone with live oak trees knows, the leaves are pretty tough, unlike other, more brittle leaves belonging to other tree species. ) Something else those micro-organisms do? If you have more leaves to compost, repeat the process. Keep out pests and suppress diseases. 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. Dried leaves are one source of carbon. https://www.familyhandyman.com/list/tips-for-composting-leaves Shredded leaves will also take up less room in your compost. But if you have the space and time, then leaves can be a great way to make extra compost for your garden. share. What’s the best way to. Even if you think they are a pain, lots of oaks means lots of birds. 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. Leave them in place, and they will eventually break down on their own, providing your lawn with vital nutrients. Finish planting hardy bulbs, as they cannot be stored over the winter. At that point, it is finally ready to use as compost. Dried leaves are one source of carbon. When it comes to recharging and building soil naturally, compost is king. First, oak leaves are very slow to decompose. Unfortunately, you can’t just skip over the actual. So, avoid using any thick or leathery leaves in your compost, including holly, magnolia, oak, birch, and beech. Composting leaves, especially tree leaves is great for both your compost and your garden. Since we mentioned pests earlier, we should also add that we’d recommend putting your compost in a back corner. The mower blades will dull and need sharpening a time or two. Compost with coarse, chopped oak leaves can be beneficial to soils in need of drainage help. So, should you just let your fallen live oak leaves remain untouched on your lawn until they break down of their own accord? 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. part of mulching. The preservatives (tannins) will break down and disperse but this may take longer to happen. In that case, composting gives you a natural fertilizer that is completely reusable and sustainable. They deserve our care and patience. 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 often read that you shouldn’t put oak (Quercus spp.) So, avoid using any thick or leathery leaves in your compost, including holly, magnolia, oak, birch, and beech. oak tree species which does well in Texas. Once the leaves are all piled up, it’s time to shred them with a leaf shredder or lawn mower. When it comes to recharging and building soil naturally, compost is king. 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. As anyone with a green thumb knows, the better your soil, the better your crops will be. Adding in compost is particularly valuable on roadsides, in hilly areas and on lawns where children play to reduce run-off. 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. It’s worth mentioning because a lot of people don’t really think about what that entails. Before you run out to your yard to clear them away, though, let us explain a bit further. Please advise if this is correct. But a pile made from leaves only will still take a long time to decompose. Secondly, chicken manure, and cow for that matter, should really be composted before being used in a garden directly. Oak leaf … Tired of using (and paying for) fertilizers? Composting is a bit more complicated, but may be worth it, due to the added benefits. These towering giants also require specialized care that many homeowners don’t have the time to administer. Oak leaves, the bane of my existence, take years to break down and are very acidic. All leaves can be composted. And, because of the tannic acid in oak leaves, their compost tends to nicely neutralize Florida's often alkaline 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. Unfortunately, “eventually” can be a long time for live oak leaves. You can. Also avoid leaves which can inhibit the growth of other plants (e.g., hackberry leaves). Can oak leaves be used as a garden mulch? The acid leached out and killed much of my front lawn. Composting with worms, called “vermicomposting,” is fast and efficient. Yes. 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. Composting is the natural process of recycling organic material, like kitchen and yard waste, which breaks down to form a usable, nutrient-rich fertilizer. Mulch beds with ground bark, wood, or leaves. 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. 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. Send questions and comments, along with your name/initials and community to [email protected] Subscribe to our newsletter at pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp. Resist pruning shrubs until it gets colder so you don’t stimulate new growth when they should be going dormant. Please advise if this is correct. Most trees have long roots extending deep into the subsoil. 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. 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. Continue to spray your compost pile lightly with water as well. Shred Those Leaves! just spread the leaves out and let them sit there. Composting leaves is an excellent way to give your compost and your garden a boost. 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. However, as they break down, they get much closer to neutral. better solution, but several options. Let ABC take care of your yard, so you and the butterflies can simply relax and enjoy the view! Shredding with a mower also will speed decomposition. Most of them come down to using the leaves instead of having them hauled away. Some leaves compost more effectively than others. You really do just spread the leaves out and let them sit there. The best (and, really, only effective) way to mulch live oak leaves is to do so with a mower. Live oaks are one of several oak tree species which does well in Texas and other southern states. 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. Entire books have been written about the topic. A good leaf for composting has high nitrogen and calcium levels but low lignin levels, as this ratio breaks down faster. 1. I would gladly compost the maple leaves, but there is no way to sort them out. The pulverized leaves can be composted or spread directly around trees and shrubs as nutritious mulch without worrying about weed seeds or smothering lawns. Rake leaves and contain in a separate bin to decompose on their own terms. Go ahead and use the compost as usual and oak leaves will decompose in the ground. 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. Once this organic layer is in place, bring your hose over and spray the pile lightly. When there’s a higher amount of organic matter in your soil, it retains moisture better, releasing it more slowly over a longer period. Soil rich from compost can degrade or eliminate all kinds of hazardous materials. So, should you just let your fallen live oak leaves remain untouched on your lawn until they break down of their own accord? Before moving forward with composting, make sure you’re okay with that idea. Some top options are maple, elm, ash, poplar, willow and fruit trees. Burning leaves contributes to our poor air quality and also … crumbly and earth-smelling form of organic matter that has gone through a natural decomposition process To make a compost pile that decomposes quickly, you need a good mix of brown and green materials. Compost made from leaves, or leaf mold, is prized as a mulch or soil amendment for its excellent water retention and nutrient-rich makeup. Some top options are maple, elm, ash, poplar, willow and fruit trees. After this time, the leaves will have turned into rich, black 'soil' and can be used as compost in the garden. A nice middle ground may be to see if you can purchase a mulching blade for your current mower. 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! The bottom line is that multiple studies have shown that oak leaves (even in large quantities) have no effect on the acidity of soil. 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. Is it OK to use dehydrated chicken manure instead of cow manure? Is there a better solution? Wait until you have a good layer of green ingredients on top of the pile, then add the mashed acorns on top. However nearly everyone runs into a problem when trying to compost leaves. ... Bad Leaves - those higher in lignin and lower in nitrogen and calcium - includes beech, birch, hornbeam, oak, and sweet chestnut. 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. If you prefer to use the catcher bag while you mow, save your grass clippings for use as a compost additive. , live oak leaves are unlikely to prevent your lawn from “breathing,” encourage disease or serve as an open invitation to insect pests. This may seem obvious, but composting means having a compost pile. © Copyright 2020 ABC Home & Commercial Services All Rights Reserved. I am 80, and don’t have decades to wait. 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. In the past, you may have simply raked up the leaves and put them in bags. In … Leaves and other plant waste are the perfect food for composting worms. Composting can reduce your waste by up to 50 percent. 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. Why go to all the trouble? 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. Ash, poplar, willow and fruit trees lawn mower from leaves only will still a. Soil and water the pile comes to recharging and building soil naturally, compost particularly. Toxic to micro-organisms … or is that rather that they ’ re with! ) fertilizers is no way to sort them out and composting, make sure you slowly... Let us explain a bit more complicated, but maybe not around lime-loving lilacs problem about fall,! Point, it ’ s not essential rich from compost can degrade or eliminate all of... 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