Such a beautiful time of year with the colorful leaves huddled together in the trees. Unfortunately, they don’t stay on the trees, leaving us with the chore of how to dispose of the leaves. Some people choose to leave them on the ground until spring, which is a wonderful idea for your gardens but can kill the grass on your lawn. Here are some ideas for using the leaves:
- When they’re completely dry, rake them into a big pile and have your kids or grandkids run and jump into the pile. Remember how much you enjoyed that when you were a kid?! I grew up in the country and we could also burn leaves; I still miss that smell of burning leaves and branches.
- Using your lawn mower, mulch the leaves onto your lawn thereby providing a wonderful source of nutrients as the leaves decompose over the winter and spring. Better than buying expensive fertilizer each year!
- Gather and mulch the leaves to use in your compost bin or compost pile. You can use whole leaves, but shredded leaves will break down more quickly to provide that ‘black gold’ compost to use in the spring. Note: continue to add your vegetable scraps and egg shells to your compost heap through the winter. You may not be able to turn the pile as often in the winter, but the nutrients will be there as the snow melts into the pile. Never add meat by-products, fats, animal waste, or leaves or stalks from diseased plants.
- Remove the leaves from the lawn and put them around your shrubs and perennials in the garden. They’ll help conserve moisture around the plants, and also stabilize the soil temperature to reduce the fluctuations of freeze and thaw that tear plant roots and heave them from the ground. A 2- or 3-inch mulch of autumn leaves will at least partially decay over the winter, releasing vital nutrients and improving soil structure, but be sure to rake away any leftovers in the very early spring before the perennials and bulbs start peeking up. Large piles of whole leaves will provide great insulation, but they can also turn into soggy mats that smother emerging plants.
- Finally, if you must, rake the leaves into the street for the municipal removal teams. Note: the city knows what to do with all of that garden and lawn waste they pick up around the city: they turn it into compost and mulch!
Written and posted by Vicki