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Can I Compost Conifer/Leylandii branches?

(From the Garden waste category | 6 comments - join the conversation)

conifer-leylandiiLike all plant matter, conifers, including Leylandii, can be composted but most people avoid adding them to their usual compost heap.

The branches and leaves are very acidic so can upset the balance of your compost heap and later, your soil. The resin can also be toxic, so be careful of that.

Even shredded into small pieces or run over by a lawnmower, conifers take ages and ages to rot down (three to five years isn’t uncommon). (Their acidity and their rubbery leaves make it difficult for composting bacteria to do their magic.)

If you’ve got a lot to get rid of (and if you’ve got leylandii trees, that’s very possible), consider starting a special slow compost heap to avoid interfering with the speed of your normal one. Or find another use for them: some people take advantage of their slow-rotting nature and sprinkle them on muddy garden paths.

Alternatively, you can use your council’s local green waste recycling service to get rid of them: they might be unsuitable for a basic compost heap but industrial composting processes can deal with them much more successfully.

Also see: How can I reuse or recycle leylandii/conifer trees and branches?

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  1. I put it all in the shredder then use it as Mulch under my Rhododendron & Azalea saves useing peat or fertilizers with ph sinking properties.

    • Hi Tim, do you use it as an ericaceous mulch immediately after cutting? Or do you wait / compost for some time first? (How long?) Thanks!

  2. I inherited about 80 leylandiers !!!
    I have the space, so make huge stacks about 2.5 m square and 2 m. high.
    At the corners, I overlap the branches at the corners like a log cabin, so that I can build the sides vertically. And leave them at least 3 Yrs. I am dismantling one to burn. Some parts are very wet, and some of the leaves are dropping off.

    I have noticed masses of tiger worms in there.

  3. Can’t find anywhere that tells me if it’s safe to compost rotten fence panel slats ?

  4. fallen leaves/niddles which are dry n brown would they b ok for compost bin? they would not acidic. correct?

  5. with rubbish not being collected and dumps closed, we threw larger conifer cuttings over our back fence into the patch of woodland. the woodland has not been built over because the brewery that owns it were delayed until there were too many in the local area. looking through the ground layer cats stalk the panorama. conifer is slow to break down, but left for months the pile began to reduce in height until forgotten.

    at the start of spring we noticed cats lying just beyond the fence. they were sleeping on the mound of conifer cuttings, perhaps for comfort. then we realised that in the cold early spring they were resting on the heat emanating through the decomposing needles. an impromptu assembly beyond the edges of a woodland.

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