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Leaf compost bin


Construct a container and afterwards fill it with autumn leaves to make leaf mould compost. After about two years the resulting leaf mould can be used to add to potting compost, containers and beds.

  • Estimated time: 60 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Science, Art&DT

Learning objectives

  • Learn about the lifecycle of plants
  • Build a structure fit for purpose
  • Select from and use a wide range of tools and equipment to perform practical tasks 

Essential background information


Ensure pupils know the lifecycle of plants and understand the composting process.


  • 4 bamboo canes – 1.2 - 1.5m high
  • 4 cane toppers
  • Measuring sticks
  • 4.3m plastic netting/ windbreak netting
  • Thin gardening wire – cut 10 pieces each 8-10cm long
  • Gloves

Step by step

  1. Mark out where you want your leaf bin to go. Put the cane toppers on the top of each cane for safety. Push the first corner cane firmly into the ground.
  2. Using the measuring sticks, form a square from the first cane and firmly push the other three canes into position.
  3. Unroll the netting and slowly walk around the four canes, so that the two ends meet and the four canes are enclosed.
  4. Fix the netting to the canes, by passing the wire through the net and twisting the two ends tightly together around the cane. Apply at least 2 pieces of wire per cane, spaced at the top and bottom.
  5. On the last cane the netting should overlap and the wire should feed through both layers. The loose ends of the netting can either be cut off or attached to the other piece of netting with another piece of wire. This will form an enclosed bin ready for the leaves.
  6. Collect lots of leaves to fill your bin.

Hints & tips

  • Only add disease free deciduous leaves to the leaf bin. Don’t use conifer and evergreen leaves such as holly, as these can take up to 3 years to rot down.
  • Water the bin if it becomes too dry.
  • Use this activity as part of the Earth Matters class growing topic.

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