The heat of the summer is finally starting to die down as fall officially begins. With this wave of cooler air comes the changing colors of leaves until they finally fade to brown and flutter to the ground. Although many people love this season, they do not love dealing with raking and getting rid of leaves each year. The crunchiness and distinct smell starts to lose its luster after a few weeks. So now what?
There actually a lot more options out there other than just raking and bagging the leaves up or burning them. If you don’t want to take the time to rake every leaf into a pile while the wind spreads them back out and laughs at you, mulching your leaves for your lawn may be a better option. This technique simply requires you to get out the lawnmower and shred the leaves that are already scattered around the yard. You may have to make a few passes through, but once the leaves have been reduced to dime size pieces, you are finished. Worms and other organisms will then recycle the leaves back into your soil, making it nice and fertilized when spring comes back around. If you want the leaves to break down faster, there are a variety of products out there that you can sprinkle your lawn with to speed up the process.
If you don’t want bits of leaves scattered throughout your yard for the next few months, though, there are other options. If you like the idea of mulching, just not your yard, try using mulched leaves in your garden, flowerbeds, or around your trees. By adding a few inches of leaf mulch to the areas, you will not only add nutrients back into the soil, but you will also help the soil retain moisture, stay warm or cool, and keep the spreading of unwanted seeds to a minimum. As an added bonus, you will cut back on your cost of mulch by using this organic form instead.
Mulching isn’t for everyone, however, and thankfully there are much more options to choose from. If you or a friend or family member has a compost pile, dead leaves can be gold, especially if they are stored and kept until the green seasons. By alternating layers of leaves with layers of green materials, your compost pile will be ready to go much faster than normal.
Another job for your freshly raked leaves could be to keep those hardy plants warm throughout the winter. Use piles of leaves to cover up potted plants or plants in gardens that are hardy, but need a little boost to confidently make it through the cold of winter. Top these plants with a thick layer of leaves to keep them out of the elements. If the plants are in a windy area, consider putting up chicken wire around the places that have been covered so the leaves don’t blow away.
The moral of the story here is that throwing away leaves or burning them is a waste. There are a plethora of uses out there for these crunchy little guys, so don’t put them on the curb just yet. Try one or more of these options and see what works best for you and your yard. You never know, you might have the most successful yard or garden you’ve had in years come spring.