We moved into a house with a large in-ground pool, and have been learning to maintain it (I'm a yard-work newbie). We skim leaves and twigs out every few days, and some days there is rather a lot of them. For example after some storms this week, there was a lot of leaves in the skimmer basket and that I skimmed out manually. I can't even imagine what it will be like when the trees start losing their leaves.

Is there any preferred way to deal with this waste? What would be most practical, economical, and environmentally-friendly of my choices?

  • Dump them on the lawn, let them blow away?
  • Dump them on the concrete, let them dry out and crumble?
  • Compost them? (I have no idea if this is feasible)
  • Accumulate them in village yard-waste bags and put them out with the trash?
  • Something else?

We use standard chlorine tablets, occasionally augmented via chlorine "shock" powder, chlorine stabilizer (cyanuric acid), and simple chemicals to adjust the pH when needed. We use a basic pump and sand filter.


Instead of using a binliner, as Bamboo stated, you can just dump the leaves under the hedge. It sounds somewhat mocking, but it is fairly easy, efficiënt and helping! small insects, hedgehogs, birds and sorts benefit from the waste. Eventually it dries, crumbles and putrefies. I've done it for years, it works. Just make sure the hedge is large and thick enough, so it's no nuisance.

If you don't have a hedge, you can dump it in the woods (in some countries this is illegal though) or put it in a hole in the ground, covered with soil.

The chlorine should not have a significant effect; the concentration is too small.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    The only possible problem with that, Joris, is that the leaves steal nitrogen from the soil as they break down. If its only a few, and its a large hedge, it probably doesn't matter. And it wasn't chlorine I was worried about, the one I don't know much about is chloraminine. – Bamboo Jul 25 '12 at 10:20
  • maybe you're right. I'm talking about a 3 meter large conifer hegde. It works perfectly fine. I guess, with a small boxwood or something like that it probably has negative effects. (although I doubt the C:N ratio of leaves (25:1) have noticeably bad effects?) I don't know about chloraminine. – Joris Jul 25 '12 at 10:55
  • 2
    Dumping leaves on the surface will steal a negligible amount of nitrogen from the soil. It's more likely that they'll absorb nitrogen that would have been lost to the atmosphere and/or that they'll trap nitrogen that drops from above if birds happen to visit your hedge with any frequency. – bstpierre Jul 25 '12 at 13:29

Yes you can compost them - the most efficient way to compost leaves is to use black binliners and compost them separately from your compost heap, in particular the autumn leaf fall.
They use a different process to break down compared to other garden waste, and are better processed alone.

The drawback is, you need somewhere to store the binliners full of leaves out of sight for a year, maybe more if your climate is cool (in Britain, this process can take up to 2 years, but more usually one).

Put the leaves in a black binliner, cram them in, tie the top. Now poke a few holes in the bottom of the bag, and put the bag somewhere out of sight to rot down on its own, preferably on soil, or somewhere that any fluids which seep out of the holes do not cause staining.

Once it's ready, you will have something we in the UK call 'black gold', though frankly, the nutrient content varies depending which leaves comprise the result. The best from a nutrient point of view are oak leaves, but all are useful to a degree as compost.

The composting process is faster if the leaves are 'chopped' in some way beforehand, for instance, running the mower over them first, but they will still rot down eventually anyway, even unchopped. Large bits of twig will not rot down very easily though.
Leaves should be wet or damp when placed in the bag, or crammed in and then some water added, just to moisten them. If you have a saline pool, it would be best to hose off the leaves before placing in the bag to flush off most of the salts.

The only thing I am not sure about with this process is the use of chloraminine rather than chlorine in water in some parts of the States - this may cause some problems with the resulting compost, or it may not.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.