You often hear that you should not compost oak (Quercus spp.) leaves since they are harmful to microorganisms… or is it because they are overly acidic? Nor, say these same experts, should they be utilized as mulch for a similar reason(s) (s). However, the whole concept is basically untrue or grossly inflated.
I’m so happy you’re considering composting your oak leaves rather than burning them. Burning leaves leads to poor air quality and depletes your yard of a vital fertilizer supply. All leaves, even oak leaves, may be composted. So yes, Oak leaves can make good compost. If you have a large number of oak leaves, you may want to combine them with other kinds of leaves, newspaper, or straw to prevent your pile from becoming overly acidic.
Is the Sap From Oak Leaves Acidic?
There is a simple answer and a lengthy one to this question. In a nutshell, oak leaves are actually acidic. Before you rush out to your yard to remove them, allow us to explain.
When oak leaves are young, their pH ranges between 4.5 and 4.7, getting them acidic. But, as they degrade, they approach neutral. The final line is that many studies have well shown that oak leaves have no impact on soil acidity.
What oak leaves do contain is the nutritional value, which is transmitted to the soil when the leaves decompose. What nutritional value does it have? For instance, research has shown that leaves may contain as much nitrogen as composted cow dung used as an organic fertilizer for you… as well as it smells much better as well!
So, should you just let the fallen live oak leaves on your yard until they decompose on their own? You certainly can. Unlike some other kinds of leaves, and live oak leaves are not likely to obstruct the “breathing” of your lawn, promote illness, or act as a good invitation to insect pests. And leave them in situ and they will ultimately decompose on their own, giving essential nutrients to your grass.
Unfortunately, with live oak leaves, “eventually” may be a long time. What if you just cannot bear the sight of all these leaves wreaking havoc on your lovely lawn?
Fortunately, there are methods that enable you to maintain a beautiful lawn while also avoiding wasting all those leaves. Mulching and composting are two excellent alternatives.
How to Make Compost from Oak Leaves
Compost is made up of decomposed organic matter that is put into the soil to provide nutrients to plants such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. When applied to the soil, many organic elements, such as brown oak leaves, manure, grass clippings, and young green weeds, stimulate plant development. All of these organic components will decompose into the same rich nutritional compost, however, collecting oak leaves requires an additional step. The separating layers that connect the oak leaves to the limbs do not often completely release, and the leaves stay throughout the winter, necessitating hand collection from the oak.
- 1. Select a well-draining area that gets four to five hours of sunshine each day to construct and decompose your oak leaf compost heap. Shaded regions promote decomposition and hasten the process.
- 2. Using an adjustable-head leaf rake, rake the fallen and brown oak leaves from underneath the tree spread and deposit them in the location selected for your compost heap. Remove any leftover leaves from the tree using the leaf rake as well as an orchard ladder.
- 3. Inspect the oak leaves for twigs and sticks and remove them. Distribute the leaves evenly on the ground as well as shred them using a lawnmower or a leaf shredder equipped with a mulching blade and grass bag.
- 4. Cover a 3-by-3-foot space with 4 inches of oak leaves and 1 inch of organic material, such as compost, bovine dung, green weeds, or grass clippings. Lightly mist it with water from your hose.
- 5. Add another four inches of oak leaves on top of the organic materials, followed by another layer of great organic matter and a gentle misting of organic matter. Alternate between leaves, organic ingredients, and water until the leaves are exhausted. In an ideal world, your compost heap would be twice as broad as it is tall. One layer of mulch should be applied to the mound.
- 6. Using a pitchfork, stir the compost heap about once for 7 days to aerate and mix; the more often you change the heap, the quicker it decomposes. Maintain enough moisture in the compost heap by sprinkling gently with the hose as required. When your oak leaf compost acquires an earthy scent, a crumbly texture, as well as a dark brown color, you may utilize it.
However, Oak Leaves Are Not Perfection
Therefore, when oak leaves are well accused of poisoning garden soil or well compost or of being too acidic, this is mostly a fallacy… However, this does not imply that oak leaves are always beneficial to gardeners.
To begin, oak leaves decay extremely slowly. Not only are they more tough and leathery than most other leaves, but their high tannin content significantly slows decomposition… and in most cases, adding leaves to compost promotes rapid decomposition.
Additionally, when oak leaves are whole, they make terrible mulch because they cluster together, creating an almost impenetrable covering that perennials and ground cover struggle to penetrate.
That is why it is usually a good idea to shred oak leaves before utilizing them. And run them under your lawn mower, and vacuum them up with your leaf blower (the leaf blower will chop up your leaves as it collects them), dump them in a trash can and shred them using a string trimmer, or anything. The technique is entirely up to you, but when oak leaves are broken into tiny pieces, the tannins are washed away nearly completely the first time it rains, lowering the so-called toxicity to practically nothing, and microorganisms begin decomposing the leaves in earnest.
It’s worth noting that shredded oak leaves are really the favored mulch in many of the world’s finest gardens since they survive slightly longer than other leaf mulches!
Therefore, do not be afraid to include oak leaves into your compost bin or as a component of your mulch: they are basically safe and may even be very helpful. Simply shred them first!
How long does it take for oak leaves to compost?
Leaves typically take six to twelve months to decompose on their own because they lack the nitrogen required to accelerate the composting process. If you construct and maintain your leaf compost pile correctly, you may reduce that period to a few months.
Are oak leaves an effective fertilizer?
The simple answer is that oak leaves are, in fact, acidic. For instance, research has shown that leaves may contain as much nitrogen as composted cow dung used as an organic fertilizer… as well as it smells much better as well!
How can you expedite the composting of oak leaves?
One or more times, run a lawnmower over the stacked oak leaves until they are thoroughly shredded. The smaller the particles, the more quickly the leaves decompose into useful compost.
Are the leaves of the oak tree poisonous?
Tannins present in the bark, leaves, and acorns of the majority of Quercus species cause poisoning by affecting the digestive system and kidneys.
Oaks are dangerous at any stage of development but are especially deadly in the spring when the flower buds and leaves are just emerging.
Do oak leaves contribute to soil acidification?
When oak leaves fall from the trees, they come with an acidic pH of between 4.5 and 5.5, depending on the kind of oak tree from which they originated. In the long term, the oak leaves would not contribute to soil acidification. Leaves are really beneficial to incorporate into your soil.
Reviews by others
Everything, even oak leaves, is biodegradable! You are correct; you should cut them up before attempting to compost them; also, you should add some soil and perhaps grass clippings to your compost to aid in the conversion of the leaves to compost.
I’m quite certain that dried oak leaves do not provide many nutrients to the compost, but you could also incorporate them into the soil or use them as mulch; if they never decompose, that’s really a good thing!
Nearly all leaves and the majority of organic materials are acidic. Indeed, as shown by a research of the pH of fresh Fallen Leaves, and sugar maple leaves are always often more aid than the majority of pine and oak leaf. If your soil is limestone-based, loamy, or clayey, it is well buffered, plus adding organic matter has little impact on the pH of your soil. Because potting soils and very sandy soils are often deficient in buffering capacity, introducing acid organic matter may have an impact on pH.
I’ve designated a separate pile for leaves. It’s beneficial to confine them, at least initially, to avoid them blowing away and causing a mess. I simply folded a piece of wire fence in half to create a circular “pen” for your leaves.
They take much longer to decompose than normal compost (at least a year, possibly two), but the final product is leaf mold, a soil improver for poor fertility. This may be used to plant beds to enhance soil structure and provide organic matter without providing a lot of nutrients. Earthworms like leaf heaps; when I converted a large one (about 1/2 sq yd) into a garden this spring, I brought a swarm of worms with me. The chopping you’re doing will expedite the process.
I’m aware that the response has already been approved, but feel compelled to add this – heaps of leaves are best separately composted from other materials since they decompose differently than most other materials. If you have space and lots of black bags, it’s simple – simply gather them up and cram as many as you can into each bag while still being able to knot the top. And If they are dry, moisten them, poke some holes in the bottom of your bag, secure it, and store it out of sight, ideally not on a stain-prone surface, for up to two years. After this time period, the leaves will have transformed into rich, black soil that may be utilized in the garden as compost.
Yes, oak leaves can be composted. Suck them up with your mower and then sprinkle the bag over the area.