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.

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.

Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects
See the full article on Houzz

Therese Ciesinski

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