What To Do With Fallen Leaves
It’s about that time of year again. The weather is getting a bit cooler, Halloween and Thanksgiving are within eyesight, leaves are starting to change colors and fall from the trees. You may be asking yourself: what do I do with fallen leaves? If you throw them away, don’t :) It’s actually good to leave them on your lawn!
Fallen leaves have many benefits! And, it’s actually a myth that fallen leaves will suffocate and kill your lawn. It would take lots and lots of leaves to do that. So it’s all about finding the balance. We don’t recommend just letting your leaves sit on your lawn, there’s a bit more to it.
Fallen leaves don't belong in a landfill.
What we don’t recommend, but what the most common method of leaf removal is, is to rake the leaves into a pile and put them into bags to be taken away on garbage day- assuming your city has a yard waste service. While this may be the most common way to deal with fallen leaves, it can be incredibly tiring and takes a while to do, not to mention that you’ll have to do it a couple times over the course of fall and buy lots of paper bags. Because leaves have so many nutrients it seems like a waste to throw them away.
Let your leaves serve as a mulch. You don't need a mulching mower.
Letting your leaves serve as a mulch is our number one recommendation! Mulching your leaves is the easiest solution. For leaves, you don’t necessarily need a mulching lawn mower. You can rake them into a pile and mow over them with a regular lawn mower, or leave them in place and mow them into smaller pieces. The leaves will break down over the fall, winter and into spring, giving your lawn necessary nutrients, and your grass will come out looking a lot greener and healthier.
There are lots of benefits of fallen leaves.
Treehugger.com sums up the benefits of fallen leaves perfectly: “Fallen leaves, as an additional physical layer of organic materials above ground, provide food, shelter, and nesting or bedding materials to a variety of wildlife, as well as overwintering protection for a number of insects, all of which work together to contribute to a healthy yard. The soil itself is also a beneficiary of this autumnal gift of fallen leaves, as the leaves are essentially composted over time into nutrients that feed both the next year's 'crop' of grass, but which also feed a vast number of microbes in the soil, which are actually the most important 'crop' you can grow, considering that all plant life in your yard depends on a healthy soil biology.”
If you have a garden leaves can help build soil fertility.
If you have a garden, fallen leaves can be used as an insulation over the winter. Your perennials can survive the winter on their own due to their large root balls. However, it can still be beneficial to your perennials and other plants that you are overwintering to put some leaves in the garden and flower bed because they will help build soil fertility.
Add leaves to your compost pile.
Speaking of gardens, need any extra compost? Fallen leaves are perfect for that! They are rich in carbon and if you pair them with grass clippings that have nitrogen, you have a perfect compost mixture, and the grass clippings will help decompose it faster! Why have your lawn fertilized when you can do it yourself- for free- with the natural resources already available to you?
Bag them, let them sit in your compost for a long time.
Perhaps you’re a more serious gardener? If you have a year or two to store them, leaf mold can be beneficial for you! Instead of utilizing them in a quicker manner as compost, consider storing them away for a year or two and keeping them moist. They will develop a mold that can be beneficial to all gardens.
Utilize them next summer.
Also, if you keep them dry over the winter, then you can utilize them in the summer as well. Perhaps you aren’t mowing your lawn anymore this fall, so you can’t get that nitrogen that comes from the green clippings. Save your dry leaves in a garbage bag and when the grass turns green in the spring, start utilizing the saved leaves then.
Let your kids play in them first :)
Your kids are definitely going to want to jump into a big pile of leaves this fall. Can you remember how fun that was? After you- or your kids- rake them into a pile and have fun jumping in them, instead of bagging them and throwing the leaves away, show your kids how to use them as a natural resource to help out your lawn and garden! Leaves don’t belong in a landfill. Hopefully these tips are going to be better for you and your garden, all the while meaning less hassle and work, and less buying of paper bags.