Ideas & Inspiration
6 Ways to Put Fall Leaves to Work
A pile of freshly raked leaves makes most of us want to dive in for some fall fun. But did you know that leaves are actually great to repurpose in your yard and garden? Rather than just blowing leaves back into the woods or raking them to collect and throw away, this guide will show you how to use fall leaves to help your yard flourish and your garden grow.
Composts need organic materials that contain nitrogen and carbon. Leaves are the perfect brown, or carbon, for your compost. Add leaves to the compost and layer with green, or nitrogen, such as plant and grass clippings. The leaves will decompose faster if you shred them, but it’s not necessary.
Shredded leaves make attractive mulch that suppresses weeds and eventually feeds the soil. The leaves are also a great way to protect and insulate delicate plants that may suffer from frostbite later in the season. When the ground hardens, spread them around the roots of plants, being careful to keep away from trunks or stems.
Leaf mold (a type of compost, not a type of fungus) improves soil structure, holds water and attracts beneficial organisms. Put collected leaves into a black garbage bag, then sprinkle water inside the bag a few times during winter. After about six months you’ll have leaf-mold to add to your garden beds.
Leaf mold is extra effective at retaining moisture, so it is helpful in keeping ground temperature cool, but be careful not to crowd it too close to the base of plants, or you may invite disease.
A blanket of leaves protects tender plants from wind and cold temperatures. Circle plants with wire fencing and pack in leaves at least six inches deep. In the spring, rake them up and compost. Cover cold-hardy vegetables, such as carrots, kale, leeks and beets, and you’ll be able to harvest them all winter.
Filling lawn and leaf bags with fallen leaves is one of the simplest and most cost effective ways to decorate your lawn for Halloween and other fall holidays. Rake and gather leaves to stuff into festive bags to greet guests and add a touch of cheerful curb appeal.