By now many of you have colorful leaves gracing your lawns. And although they’re beautiful in color, not to mention tons of fun to jump in, after the thrill is gone, you’re left with the dreaded task of raking and bagging.

Don’t just toss ‘em!

Did you know your garden can benefit from these beauties — in a big way?

Here’s how:

Improve Your Soil – Mix shredded leaves right into your garden. Next spring, your soil will have an overabundance of earthworms and other beneficial organisms.

Insulate Tender Plants for Winter – A 6-inch blanket of leaves protects tender plants from winter wind and cold. Cover cold-hardy vegetables such as carrots, kale, leeks and beets, and you’ll be able to harvest them all winter long.

Give Your Compost Pile a Boost – Carbon-rich leaves balance high-nitrogen compost ingredients such as fresh grass clippings.

Make “Leaf Mold” – Simply rake the leaves into a big pile. If possible, shred them, they will decompose faster. If not, you can still make leaf mold without shredding. After one to three years, fungus will have broken the leaves down to a special compost that smells like a walk through the woods. Leaf mold is high in calcium and magnesium and retains three to five times its weight in water—that’s comparable to peat moss.

Tips Before You Shred

Be careful of some types of leaves. Walnut, camphor laurel, and eucalyptus leaves contain substances that inhibit plant growth. It’s best to compost these leaves BEFORE using them in your garden.

Be sure to chop or shred whichever leaves you choose before using them as mulch. Whole leaves can form a barrier that water can’t penetrate.

If you add shredded leaves right to your soil, add some slow-release nitrogen fertilizers to help the leaves decompose and to ensure that soil microbes don’t use all of the available nitrogen.

Now remember — use your leaves only after you’re done jumping into a few mounds. hehee!

What’s your favorite Fall activity?

© 2012, Dee @ Bella Savvy. All rights reserved.

Dee

4 Responses to The many benefits of Fall leaves

  • Sherry Compton says:

    Leaves can be beautiful and a pain! Haha! I love seeing them change color. I didn’t realize how special that is until talking with my grand kids that live in Florida. They asked me to send them some so they could see the different colors.

  • sara m ford says:

    I love all the colors I take my kids and we will go looking for different leafs take them home and make art with them its really fun

  • Wanda McHenry says:

    Thanks for the tip about insulating your tender plants, I’ll try this. I’ve lost a few in the past because we seldom have frost, but when it does we’re not aware that it was coming.

  • Karen Hand says:

    You are correct that the leaves are fun to jump in and also correct a pain to rake, but thanks for the valuable tips about the garden.

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