Autumn: How To Make Potting Soil With Dead Leaves From The Garden?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:49 pm

If there is one thing that many people hate in autumn, it is the collection of dead leaves from trees and shrubs… When there are no more, there are still some! Fortunately, we can find a little positive in the realization of this chore by remembering that like weeds that can be useful, there are many tricks to achieve with these leaves and in particular by launching into the preparation of the soil of dead leaves. Yes, all those beautiful red or warm orange leaves that annoy us once they fall can become real allies for the gardener. Here’s how to prepare this super soil to use this green waste intelligently in the vegetable garden or the garden.

And don’t forget to use the dead leaves stuck in the gutter.

What are the benefits of leaf litter?

Autumn: How To Make Potting Soil With Dead Leaves From The Garden?

Autumn: How To Make Potting Soil With Dead Leaves From The Garden?

First of all, you should know that this potting soil is excellent for lightening compacted soils. Indeed, it is very aerated and fine, which allows it to rectify the most “mastoc” soils. With its low nutrient content, it is a light and humusy organic amendment perfect to make a substrate for your seedlings and cuttings. And of course, since you collect all the raw material in your garden, this potting soil has the obvious advantage of being free! By using it this way, you also avoid a trip to the waste disposal center. Finally, note that 4m3 of leaves will give you about 1m3 of potting soil. Not bad!

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Which dead leaves to use to obtain this potting soil ?

Of course, it is better to avoid using leaves with cryptogamic diseases (marsonia, oidium, scab, rust…). Indeed, we do not want the spores to proliferate in the soil and contaminate the future plants. In addition, avoid contaminating your future crops with harmful pests such as the Cameraria ohridella caterpillar that overwinters in the dead leaves. Last but not least, don’t put in softwood needles or walnut leaves whose tannin is too harmful.

Otherwise, you are quite free to put any deciduous tree leaves you want. Ideally, they should be dry or damp, but not wet: this is always a plus! Otherwise, note that thick, leathery leaves take longer to decompose and weigh down the shredded material unnecessarily. So for plane trees, laurel, oak or beech trees, don’t hesitate to give that pile of dead leaves a shredding. Using shredded leaves will make the job easier.

Good to know: If some grass clippings get in the way, don’t worry. The grass clippings are rich in nitrogen and will help the leaves to decompose.

Let’s take a step-by-step look at how to make leaf litter!

Choose your preparation method
Start by finding a shady spot for it. Then choose between two methods:

-Fill large garbage bags with holes in them with the leaves and good compost, then seal them tightly.

-Use a bin to hold the wet leaves and cover with a layer of soil or potting mix from last year’s leaves. This will provide microorganisms to seed the soil. Here, don’t hesitate to alternate the layers and to aerate and moisten the soil regularly. In addition, it should ideally be turned over every 6 months.

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A little waiting will then be necessary

After one year, your leaf potting soil will have already matured well. However, it is best to give it a few more months, or even two years, to mature to its best quality. However, you can also speed up the process by adding nitrogen to its carbon-rich leaves. For example, you can add fresh nettle without seeds. Alternatively, use nettle or comfrey manure.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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