How To Compost Oak Leaves (Step By Step)

How To Compost Oak Leaves (Step By Step)

Gardening is an old pastime that has been practiced for centuries.

There are also a few myths, old wives’ tales, and half-truths concerning how to compost certain materials.

Composting using oak leaves is a topic that gardeners discuss endlessly. But what is rumor, and what is fact regarding putting oak leaves in compost?

How to compost oak leaves

If processed properly, oak leaves can be utilized in composting. Oak leaves, according to gardening tales, are poisonous and acidic because to their high tannin content.

This is just partially correct. Your compost will be OK if you utilize oak leaves correctly.

Tannin levels in oak leaves are high. This is what gave rise to the notion that oak leaves are unsuitable for composting, resulting in two concerns:

Because oak leaves are acidic, some are concerned that they would add acidity to the compost, killing important microorganisms and creatures.

Decomposition would be substantially halted. The resultant compost is overly acidic and can hurt your garden plants.

Gardeners think that oak leaves with high tannin levels are harmful. They are concerned about introducing these toxins into the compost and soil, which could harm your garden plants.

Like other myths and tales, the terrible reputation of oak leaves has some reality. Is it, nevertheless, necessary to exclude specific types of leaves while composting?

If you have an abundance of oak leaves in your garden, it seems a shame to waste such a valuable resource for your composting business. In reality, you can use this abundant resource to help your compost as long as you do it correctly.

Are Oak Leaves Bad For Compost?

While oak leaves contain more tannins than other trees, this does not translate to toxicity in a compost pile.

There aren’t many insects or other creatures that consume oak tree leaves. People say this is because the leaves are harmful, therefore animals avoid eating them.

Animals avoid leaves with high tannin levels owing to taste rather than toxicity. Tannins give the leaves a harsh flavor that animals and other species dislike. Tannins also hinder insects from digesting leaf material properly.

However, tannins are found in many foods and drinks that we eat and are not toxic. Oak leaves are not poisonous and will not affect the bacteria or the microenvironment in your compost pile.

They will not also contribute any harmful properties to the finished compost. The main issue with oak leaves for compost piles is that their leaf structure is dense, making them difficult to decompose.

The extra time it takes for them to disintegrate is frequently ascribed to the leaves killing off the bacteria that decay the organic waste in the compost pile.

How Long Do Oak Leaves Take To Compost?

Freshly fallen oak leaves degrade slowly, which is why they are not a popular addition to compost piles.

Oak leaves in their natural form might take six months to a year to disintegrate in a compost pile, depending on the composting technique employed.

However, rather than wasting a precious resource, it is worth putting in a little more work with your oak leaves to incorporate them in your composting.

How Do You Make Oak Leaves Compost Faster

Oak leaves degrade slowly in general, but you may speed up the process by treating the leaves beforehand.

The easiest way to speed up the decomposition of oak leaves is to cut them up into tiny pieces.

This allows bacteria to enter the leaf’s interior structures. Simultaneously, you expand the surface area of the components,

exposing more of the material to the composting bacteria. This permits them to work on the oak leaves more quickly.


Composting leaves should be done with caution. Because, not all leaves will go into compost.

If you have oak trees in your garden, the oak leaves should be viewed as a blessing rather than a nuisance. Change your strategy and compost your oak leaves to create a fantastic nutrient-dense resource for your garden!


  1. Cumulative Effect of Annual Additions of Uncomposted Oak and Maple Leaves on the Yield of Vegetables
  2. Compost effect on bacterial and fungal colonization of kermes oak leaf litter in a terrestrial Mediterranean ecosystem
  3. Composting as a control for Sudden Oak Death Disease