I don’t compost my Autumn leaves as part of the main composting process. I’ve heard of two methods:

1. Put all the leaves in plastic bin bags, make sure they are moist, seal the bags, and then go away and leave them for 2-3 years. When you open them you’ll have lovely leaf mould for soil conditioning. I tried this because we were about to move house and I wasn’t going to leave all my compost behind! It worked a treat!!I think you are supposed to pierce the bags for ventillation, but I didn’t because we were moving and forgot to do so afterwards: & it didn’t make any difference. The bags themselves started to decompose which made extracting the leaf mould from the plastic interesting.

2. I am now trying the other method and have made a „bin” from some fence posts and chicken wire. Geoff Hamilton (deceased) wrotein his book Gardeners’ world Practical Gardening course: Leaves rot in a different way than other garden compost and takes longer so its best composted separately. It takes at least a year. Instead of being rotted down by bacteria, leaves are decomposed mainly by fungi. These don’t require heat to do their work. Put them in and tread them down as you fill. They may need a little water in dry weather.The nutrient value of leafmould is negligible and therefore extra nutrients will need to be added to any compost mix in which its used. When sieved it makes an excellent constituent of potting composts. I also read somewhere else that leaves rob the soil of something(I think it was nitrogen?) during their composting process and so I decided against trenching them.

There are a couple of ways I compost leaves. First, I use leaves as dry, or brown, matter in my regular compost piles (they are encircled by 3 feet high by 3 foot diameter plastic rounds with plenty of ventilation holes). I put a layer over my pile every time I add cut grass or after every few additions of kitchen scraps. Also, I have a large leaf pile, which does double duty. First, it provides a nice source of leaves for my layering, second, it is its own compost pile. Within a year or two I have wonderful soil amendment (near the bottom) and mulch (stuff near the top.)

The third thing I do takes very little effort. In the fall I find an area on our land that needs a little extra attention and make several small leaf piles in the area. By midsummer or so, most of the leaves have settled into the ground and we just rake it about to spred it. We have found it helps to enrich the soil, especially in our hard clay ares. Hope that gives you some ideas. I must admit, I do a lazy person’s method of composting. I figure it works in nature, so I just let it be and it does its thing. Adding water now and again in the hotter months will increase the decompisition rate.