Before you put all your leaves in bags on the curb, please take a moment to consider that what you’re throwing away is essentially gold standard fertilizer. Those dead leaves can be used to make leaf mold, a powerful and straightforward natural fertilizer that can drastically improve your soil quality and the health of your garden and landscaping. Making leaf mold can take a while, but it helps enhance the quality of soil and density so much that it is a critically underused tool. Along with adding back essential nutrients, the spongy texture means that soil temperatures remain more consistent, roots grow easier, moisture levels are more regulated, and earthworms and beneficial bacteria are better able to thrive. To make use of this natural and free nutrient-rich material, you just need to ensure you have a little extra space in your yard, and that you keep those leaves out of the landfill.
Starting Your Leaf Mold
If you have an area of your yard where you can create a simple pile that will be somewhat protected from the wind, you have all you need to start your leaf mold. Merely rake your leaves into a pile in an area where they will not be a distraction, and then leave them to decompose. Some gardeners will build a wire mesh frame to help keep their leaf pile contained, depending on your landscaping, you may not need it. Make sure to start your pile in a shady area, keeping it moist will help ensure that it decomposes faster.
Speeding Up The Process
Because the main component of leaf material is carbon, it breaks down very slowly. Developing perfect leaf mold can take up to one to two years, but the process can be accelerated. If you add nitrogen-rich compost like grass clippings and coffee grounds to the pile regularly you may expedite the process. Other organic materials like manure and bat guano can also help and will add beneficial nutrients.
When It’s Done
You will know that your leaf mold is ready when it has changed to a dark brown, almost black color and has a pleasant, earthy scent. It may be best to set up multiple bins to rotate through throughout the years, especially as your final leaf mold will be about ⅓ the original volume.
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Lehnhoff’s Landscaping offers professional and exceptional outdoor lighting and landscaping year round. We serve Baltimore, Chevy Chase, Montgomery County, Clarksville, Howard County, Ellicott City, Kingsville, Bowie, Pasadena, Towson, and many other areas throughout Maryland. You can contact Lehnhoff’s Landscaping for all of your Baltimore landscaping needs by calling 443.921.5789 today! Help us grow! Follow Lehnhoff’s Landscaping on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.