leaves at the bottom of the hill

Asked September 13, 2017, 11:06 AM EDT

I have 6 oak trees. I blow their leaves to the bottom of my hill (steep), then use my mower to go over them repeatedly to chop them small, then bag them for pickup, then drag them across the neighbor's yard to the street in front of his house at the bottom of my hill. I collect about 75-100 paper bags every fall. These are well chopped leaves. Sometimes I bag some without chopping. If I didn't chop them up, I would have about 250-300 bags.

I am considering composting them but don't want to be required to deal with them regularly. A couple decades ago, my father built a "box" on his back lawn. He drove some angle iron into the ground as 4 corner posts than placed redwood boards on the sides to make a box about 6 feet square and 3 to 4 feet high. He would put his leaves and year end garden pull ups into the box and then essentially ignore it until the decomposed material got 2 or 3 feet deep. I don't believe he aerated it but he may have occasionally driven a pipe (probably a 2 inch galvanized) several places then pulled it out.

Is this an acceptable way to deal with my leaves? (I would not have garden pull ups, only leaves.) Whenever I have seen stories about composting, they always say that the pile of material needs to be "turned over" several times per year. I don't want to do that. The "box" would be about 70 feet from my house and about 50 feet from my neighbors' houses.

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

A giant leaf pile is an excellent way to compost leaves. The recomendations for turning are to speed up decomposition so the compost is useable sooner. Since you will have more leaves every year I would add a bag or bags of manure to the pile occasionally to keep the pile decomposing. Watering it when is very dry would also keep the decay process. Chopped leaves decay faster than whole leaves. I compost a mound that is 5ft tall and 10 ft wide by 10 ft long every year and the pile is reduced to about 1 ft deep by the end of July without any amendments. The pile of leaves is in full sun.

If you want to get fancier check out sheet mulching.