Recycle Your Leaves

Use them, don't loose them for richer garden soil.

| November/December 2005

  • fall leaves, autumn leaves, leaf compost, leaf mulch

  • fall leaves, autumn leaves, leaf compost, leaf mulch
Fall leaves are rich in minerals and organic matter, and if you throw them away every year you will gradually make your soil less fertile. Here are four ways to recycle this valuable resource on your yard and in your garden:

  1. Rake up the leaves but instead of throwing them away, stockpile them next to your compost pile so you can mix them with grass clippings next summer. This grass/leaf mix makes excellent compost.
  2. If you don't already have a compost pile, you can toss the leaves into a simple circle of wire fencing. Or if you prefer, bag the leaves, punch a few hole in the tops of the bags, water well, and leave them to decompose. Either way, next year you'll have a rich, crumbly leaf mold that is an excellent organic soil amendment.
  3. Shred the leaves by mowing, or put them into a garbage can and chop them up with a string trimmer. Use this mulch in your garden to enrich the soil and protect overwintering crops such as garlic.
  4. Mow the lawn to chop up the leaves and most of them will fall back into the grass and decompose. Let the wind carry the rest into shrub borders where they will protect plant roots from severe cold.
DALE Hawes
11/5/2006 12:00:00 AM

I have 4 trees plus a neighbours big elm dumping leaves on my yard every fall. I've never thrown out a bag of leaves. I mulch the leaves into the lawn with the mower with the bag off, then run them over again with the bag attachment on. Instant grass and leaf powder. I bag what I can't get in the composter for next years compost pile. I dethatch in spring.Still amazes me to watch people bagging 10 to 15 bags of leaves for the landfill to my one for the composter.

9/13/2006 12:00:00 AM

We mowed the leaves with the bagger attachment on the mower and then put the chopped leaves directly on the garden. BAD IDEA! It really helped the texture of the soil, but I found out that they require nitrogen to decompose, and suck it from the soil. I had to add lots of composted manure later to rebalance the soil. It would have been much smarter to let them compost for a year, then add them a year after they fell.

NINA Jaffe
6/20/2006 12:00:00 AM

Is it okay to compost maple leaves that have tar spot fungus?

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