What To Do With Your Fall Leaves

Posted on: 6 November 2014

Those red, orange, and yellow leaves that hail the coming of fall are beautiful to look at when they're on the trees, but with the first brisk wind, many homeowners begin to dread the coming chore of gathering and disposing of all that foliage. There are many ways to deal with fallen leaves, however, that don't require weeks of raking and bagging or the expense of paying someone to do it for you--and even have the added benefit of enriching your yard. Read on for four things you can do to turn those fallen leaves to your advantage.

1. HGTVgardens.com recommends making a compost pile. Throw your leaves in with any other yard clippings, leftover soil, and other decomposable matter (think dinner scraps and garden waste) to create a pile that will, over time, yield a rich compost you can spread over next spring's garden or use in your yard to give your existing trees and shrubs a boost. If you're not much of a gardener, you could always offer your leaves to your green-thumbed neighbors, who will most likely be more than happy to come do a little raking if they get to use the resulting goods in their own yards.

2. If you're not up to continuously adding matter to a compost pile, try creating leaf mold. About.com suggests taking your fall leaves and creating several layers with soil between them, then letting it sit for about a year. The partially broken-down organic matter will enrich any soil you add it to, with little more than the initial work of creating the pile.

3. Create mulch from your leaf-laden yard. Leaf mulch differs from leaf mold or compost in that it is composed only of shredded leaves and it is immediately spread over your yard, rather than first being allowed to decompose. According to organiclandcare.net, leaf mulch increases soil fertility, helps the soil retain more moisture, suppresses weeds, and helps regulate ground temperature. Spread leaf mulch a few inches deep around plants and onto garden beds, keeping it from touching the stems and trunks of existing plants. It will break down throughout the winter months. If you use the mulch to insulate cold-resistant vegetables like carrots and beets, you can harvest them all winter and enjoy fresh produce through the cold months.

4. For the individual looking for a practically no-work solution to their fallen leaves, forget raking and simply mow your leaves where they fall, letting the shredded leaves fall back onto your lawn. Over the long winter months and under the snow, the leaves will break down, enriching your grass and soil.

The above tips will work in any climate, but gardeners.com cautions against using certain leaves, such as walnut and eucalyptus, as mulch because they contain chemicals that can harm your plants. If you have these plants in your yard, compost them first to break down any harmful chemicals. 

If you have too many leaves for any one project, or too much yard waste from your fall yard work projects, contact a company like Atomic Roll-Off to have it removed so you don't have to worry about it.