Composting oak leaves



Our cottage in the Kawartha Lakes is surrounded by very mature red oak trees – read millions of leaves in the fall. Family in the past have piled them for years, prior to 20yrs ago – I haul them away now. Those leaves have not broken down what-so-ever. I plan to use a small rototiller to hopefully physically break them up. Is there anything to promote composting. Note – I have used urea on them to no benefit.


How fortunate you are to have such majestic trees on your property.  It must be beautiful in the fall!

Leaves can be mulched using the appropriate tools such as a mulching lawnmower.  We do not have any facts regarding the use of a rototiller to specifically break up oak leaves.  I assume you are spreading the leaves and rototilling them into the garden.  Likely you will have the same result (ie leaves will not decompose quickly) as oak leaves do take considerable time to break down (see gardening guide link below).

We encourage you to wear appropriate eye protection, as well as a mask when shredding leaves, as the small particles produced by debris can be irritating.

Also note the comment from Oregon State University regarding removal of leaves from a forested area, as they do provide nutrients for the forest vegetation.