Shredding Leaves for Compost or Leaf Mold

On numerous articles it's recommended that dried leaves be shredded to compost them more rapidly. The argument made is that it increases the surface area of the leaf.

That doesn't make sense. Most of the leaf's surface is flat, and chopping leaves only increases the surface area along the edges of the cuts.

If you stacked the pieces of a crumbled leaf into a column, the total surface area along the edge, if compressed, would still be only a fraction of the total surface area. Granted, it's still a lot more edge-surface than an unbroken leaf, which would have nearly no edge-surface compared to total surface.

I suspect that chopping leaves works for two reasons. One is that cutting a leaf exposes the cross-section of the leaf's capillary system. Water contacting the capillary system is more likely to enter the leaf.

Second is that when the leaf is chopped, water can more easily flow down through the compost pile. The flow of water washes bacterial or fungi from one area to another, spreading the organism into areas yet untouched.

Combine the capillary action with the spread of bacteria or fungi, and I tend to think that a dry leaf edge will actually draw in a little bit of the composting organism along with the water. The organism can then digest the bit of leaf "from within", protected from the open air.