5 Ways to Put Fall Leaves to Work in Your Garden

Tuesday, October 27, 2020   /   by Frank Hornstein

5 Ways to Put Fall Leaves to Work in Your Garden



In fall my town holds leaf collection days, when homeowners (or their landscape services) blow or rake fallen leaves off their properties into big piles in the streets. Later a truck comes and vacuums them away. What I see being vacuumed up are dollar bills, the money these homeowners will spend next year on lawn and garden fertilizers, mulch and bagged compost. Money they might have saved if they’d simply used those leaves in their gardens.




Horizon Landscape Company

Why Are Leaves Valuable to the Gardener?

It’s simple. When incorporated into soil, fall leaves:


  • Add nutrients, including phosphorous and potassium

  • Increase the soil’s microbial life

  • Boost its water-holding capacity

  • Improve its structure, known as tilth


And did I mention that leaves are free? It takes little effort on your part to get them working for you, so instead of sweeping them to the curb, here are five ways to use leaves in your garden.







Tallman Segerson Builders

1. Mow Them Into the Lawn

Together, shredded leaves and grass clippings add carbon (leaves) and nitrogen (grass) to the soil, reducing your need to add store-bought fertilizers later.







Jocelyn H. Chilvers

Here’s how: Use a mulching mower. If there’s a bag, take it off and mow with the discharge chute facing toward the lawn, so the clippings blow on the grass instead of on the street or driveway. Set the mower height at about 3 inches. Make another pass if the leaves are still in big pieces. The shredded leaves should sit no more than ¾ inch deep on the grass. Over the winter they will break down into the soil and be gone by spring.

Shop for lawn mowers on Houzz







Prebuilt

2. Add Them to Vegetable Beds

You can incorporate whole or chopped leaves into any cleared-out vegetable beds. They will mostly decompose over the winter, then in spring you can mix in whatever is left. If you don’t want to see leftover leaves in your beds, shred them first.

Don’t have a shredder? A garbage can and a string trimmer will work. Use a 55-gallon garbage can. Fill it three-quarters of the way with leaves. Put the string trimmer in, turn it on and move it through the layers of leaves. Be sure to wear eye and ear protection.

Ready to redesign your yard? Find a landscape designer on Houzz







Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects

3. Make Leaf Mold

Leaf mold is simply wet leaves that have decomposed into a rich, black, soil-like substance that makes a perfect mulch for plants. Pile the leaves in a spot where they’re out of the way and won’t blow away. Or make large (3- or 4-foot) circles of chicken wire, 3 feet high, and pile the leaves in them. Wet the leaves as you go so they’ll rot. Turning the pile a few times during the winter will accelerate the process.







Amy Renea

4. Mix Leaves — Shredded or Not — Into a Compost Pile Now, Where They’ll Break Down Over Winter

Even better: Stockpile dried leaves, in garbage bags or piled in that out-of-the-way place, for summer. In warm weather there’s an abundance of succulent green material (nitrogen) for your compost pile. But to keep the composting process aerobically working, and not rotting, it needs lots of “browns” (carbon), in the form of dried material.

What You Should Know About Composting in Winter







Uliana Grishina | Photography

5. Protect Outdoor Potted Plants

When the weather turns cold and potted plants (the hardy ones, not houseplants or tropicals, which must be brought indoors) go dormant, pick a sheltered place on the north, west or east side of your house. Cluster the pots together against the house, ideally beneath an overhang. Pile dried leaves over, under and between the entire grouping of pots.

If the area is windy, corral the pots with chicken wire so the leaves won’t blow away. Pile the leaves inches deep, covering the pot and as much of the plant as possible. Under this insulating blanket, both plants and pots should come through the winter just fine. With this method, even terra-cotta pots can stay outdoors, as long as water can’t get into them and freeze.

7 Ways to Get Your Container Garden Ready for Winter







Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

The worst thing you can do with fall leaves? Burn them. Most municipalities have banned leaf burning, and for good reason. Burning leaves pollutes the air, causes problems for people with respiratory illnesses and creates a fire hazard. Besides, as you can see, there are so many more worthwhile things to do with leaves.

More on Houzz
More guides to fall gardening
Find a landscape designer
Shop for lawn and garden tools and accessories















Iron Valley Real Estate | Frank Hornstein Group
Frank Hornstein
17527 Nassau Commons Boulevard
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
Cell: 302-604-4746
Office: 302-541-8787

The data relating to real estate for sale on this website appears in part through the BRIGHT Internet Data Exchange program, a voluntary cooperative exchange of property listing data between licensed real estate brokerage firms in which Iron Valley Real Estate | Frank Hornstein Group participates, and is provided by BRIGHT through a licensing agreement. The information provided by this website is for the personal, non-commercial use of consumers and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Some properties which appear for sale on this website may no longer be available because they are under contract, have Closed or are no longer being offered for sale. © 2021 BRIGHT, All Rights Reserved Information Deemed Reliable But Not Guaranteed. Data last updated: March 5, 2021 1 PM.
This site powered by CINC: www.cincpro.com