Ideas & Inspiration

6 Ways to Put Fall Leaves to Work

Shred and Spread
A mower shreds leaves.

Shredded leaves are an amazing source of nutrients for your lawn. You can use a leave shredder or chop leaves using a mower with a bagging attachment. The smaller the cut, the faster they’ll decompose. Spread over anywhere you need nutrients added to the soil.

Leaves inside a compost.

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.

Mulch Garden Beds
Leaf mulch added to a garden bed.

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.

Make Leaf Mold
Leaf mold added to a yard.

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.

Insulate Tender Plants
Leaves used to insulate plants in a yard.

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.

Holiday Lawn Decor
Festive pumpkin leaf bags sit on a lawn.

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. 

Community Recycling
Three recycling cans filled with leaves sit near a curb.

If you don’t have a need for leaves in your garden, most communities take yard waste and turn it into compost and mulch. Collect them in biodegradable paper leaf bags and help reduce landfill waste.