Leylandii: Hot or cold composting?

As we write on the What Can I Compost page conifers, including leylandii, can be composted but the composting process is slow in the conventional cold composting system taking up to 5 years.  Using a hot composting technique is as might be expected quicker, our friends at Hotbin indicate that at 40-60C compost can be produced in 1-3 months.

 Both branches and leaves are acidic and large amounts added to the bin or compost heap is said to lower the pH.

 The leaves and cuttings from the conifer  should be shredded into small pieces to expose the maximum  area of wood to microbial attack, the smaller the pieces the greater the surface area exposed to microbial activity and the quicker the decomposition. As indicated above the speed of decomposition is also linked to the temperatures maintained in the bin.  Leylandii, as with other  leaves being composted or used for leafmould  can be “shredded” by running  over them with  a lawnmower, but this not normally as effective as using a shredder.  


Where cold composting techniques are used, or there are large amounts of leylandii, it is best to compost them separately in a designated slow compost heap to avoid reducing the effectiveness of the main compost bins.

Alternatively, you can use your council’s green waste recycling service either putting them in the “Green Bin” provided (usually at a cost) or taking them to the Recycling site. While they can e difficult to home compost,   they present no problem for the industrial composting processes.


A further problem with leylandii is that many people, including me, suffer skin rashes when the acidic clippings touch bare skin. The problem is easily solved by wearing gloves and covering the arms when cutting or handling material from leylandii hedges.