How do I dispose of leaves that I collect?


How do I dispose of leaves that I collect?


If fallen leaves are collected, there are a several options for what you can do with them. 

Add Leaves to the Compost Pile

Whenever possible, keep this valuable organic resource on-site.  Leaves can be added to a compost pile to create “black gold” to use in your garden to improve soil structure and add fertility to the soil.  Leaves can be composted whole or shredded to allow them to break down and create compost faster. 

Learn more about composting from these resources: Composting FAQs

photo of fall leaves on ground
Whenever possible, keep fallen leaves on-site. They are a valuable organic resource.

Create Leaf Mold

Even without a compost pile, leaves can be piled in a back corner of the garden to produce leaf mold.  Leaf mold is partially decomposed leaf matter and can be used like mulch throughout the garden.  A pile of leaves around 3 foot tall and wide will transform into leaf mold over a period of one to two years.  Shredding the leaves allows it form faster. 

Send Leaves to a Composting Facility

If composting in your own garden is not an option, leaves can be bagged and sent to a city or commercial composting facility.  Avoid the use of plastic bags and never send leaves to the landfill.

Avoid Burning Leaves

Burning leaves is another option, but not typically a desirable one.  Many of the beneficial nutrients found in fallen leaves are lost when burnt.  Burning leaves releases irritants and particulate matter into the air that can pose health risks.  In some municipalities burning leaves is illegal.  Additionally, burning leaves can be dangerous if not done properly. When conditions are too dry or windy the fire can quickly burn out of control resulting in property damage and costly fines.    

Answered by
  • Specialist
  • Consumer Horticulture Extension
Last updated on
March 19, 2024