What To Do With All Those Leaves?
With the tons of leaves that are on the ground, you might be asking yourself what to do with them. While some counties and cities allow for leaves to be burned (or even just left in the street!) we’ve come up with this list of 5 things you can do with those leaves that can actually help your landscaping, lawn, and more! If you need any help getting your home and property prepped for winter, look no further than Odd Job Larry!
Most household compost bins are filled primarily with leaves. They’re relatively quick to decompose into a fertile mulch that can then be added back into your garden or landscape. Most leaves are composed of between 20 and 30% carbon to every part nitrogen, putting them close to the ideal ratio for composting. That’s why, if you’ve been thinking about starting a compost bin, autumn is a prime time to start!
Similar to compost, leaf mold can also be used as a kind of mulch. Unlike most compost, though, leaf mold is made by a cold process that involves fungus, rather than a hot one involving bacteria.
The most efficient way to attain the results of making your leaf mold is to shred the leaves (with a leaf shredder or by mowing over them), then bag them up in sturdy garbage bags for a year or so. Some leaf blowers have the added feature that enables them to be used to vacuum up leaves for shredding. It’s important to moisten the leaves slightly before bagging them, and poke a few holes in the bag to provide some airflow.
The contents will eventually turn soft and crumbly, indicating that they’re ready to use and can be distributed in a layer up to 3 inches thick around perennials, vegetables and shrubs. Leaf mold is extremely effective at retaining moisture, making it helpful in keeping ground temperature cool. However, be careful not to crowd it too close to the base of plants as this can make them more susceptible to disease.
Simply leaving your leaves to pile up can cause problems for your lawn by inviting mold. However, raking them up isn’t necessarily the best solution. Provided that they don’t hide your lawn from the sun, leaves can actually be beneficial for your grass. The trick is to break them up into pieces small enough that they don’t block the sun. This can be done by setting your mower to its tallest height and mowing the leaves repeatedly until they’ve broken down into bits too small to rake. This allows them to make their way down to the soil below, where they’ll break down over winter, and add their nutrients to your lawn. (A mulching mower will make the job even easier!)
When applied the correct way, fallen leaves can also be a benefit your garden and flower beds. Take the leaves you’ve gathered and apply them in a layer around 6 inches deep, then use a tiller to work them directly into the soil of your beds. Over the long winter, decomposition will enrich your beds and can even help improve soil conditions. The leaves can improve aeration in soil with a heavy clay component while sandy soil will hold water and nutrients better. You can also add fertilizer to the mix and increase the rate of decomposition.
Finally, if you’re searching for a way to dress your house in the colors of autumn, there’s no material more appropriate than the leaves of autumn! Next time you rake your lawn, keep an eye out for the best-shaped and most strikingly-colored leaves. For the crafty, they can be arranged into vibrant wreaths or used in table settings for family get-togethers. Children in particular are often amazed at the change leaves go through, making them perfect for creative activities!
These are just some suggestions of what you can do with those leaves that are sure to be all over and continuing to fall around your home. It is early November after all! If you’d like any help with your leaf cleanup, feel free to contact your local handyman, Odd Job Larry! We’d be happy to help you gather them.