Maybe you are more of a leaf-blower type of person anyhow?
As a side note – don’t you just love watching kids jump in a pile of leaves? Such joy.
But I digress.
Here’s 10 fantastic ways to get those leaves to work for you instead of you doing all the work!
1.) Mow the leaves and lawn one last time….
Tom borrows our neighbor’s lawn mower for one last late-season mowing. Not only does our lawn look ready for winter but the mower chops up those leaves. Poof. Gone. No need to rake.
Now that fall is here, we set the blades lower than usual so the grass is cut shorter than in summer. After all, the weather is cooler and we are getting more rain. No fear that we’ll kill the lawn.
Cutting the grass a tad shorter also increases air circulation while discouraging fungal diseases. This method works particularly well if your leaves are small or medium-sized.
Similar to grass clippings, chopped leaves decompose quickly and add valuable organic matter with nutrients to the soil. It’s free too, folks!
This reduces the need for fertilizers. If you do notice any clumps of leaves or grass that didn’t get evenly dispersed, you’ll want to spread them out before the snow comes so you don’t kill your lawn.
2.) Do nothing with your leaves ~ let them be!
This is especially true if you live way out in the country with few neighbors. Who cares what happens to the leaves? No one will be bothered by them.
Leaves decompose quickly and feed organic matter to the soil.
But I live in suburbia. When those strong gusts of wind come up, all my leaves head straight to the neighbors fence. Then they would have to deal with them. Not exactly fair.
We love that fence. It blocks a super busy road protecting my kids and pets from harm.
So the “do nothing” isn’t an option for Tom and I but hopefully it’s a choice for you!
Big “green” flag.…if you leave a thick layer of leaves on your lawn, especially large clumpy leaves, they will block sunlight and promote turf grass fungal diseases.
3.) Rake the leaves over the roots of your trees & shrubs
4.) Mulch the flower beds
Your chopped up leaves are the ideal mulch for all gardens. And it’s free mulch.
It’s best not to mulch around the crowns of plants until the ground has frozen because it can encourage fungal growth (bleh) or invite rodents to nest there. We’ve had a problem with rodents in the past! Bunnies are cute but only up to a point.
As soon as the ground does freeze, spread the leaves around the plants up to 3 inches thick!
5.) Make a leaf pile and leave it
Don’t hesitate to make a large leaf pile in a convenient spot in your lawn. After all, a leaf pile is basically a compost pile and we love compost!
As long as your pile is strictly leaves (no stinky food compost, please!) it won’t smell or attract rats. And yes, we wrote the books on rats. Holy moly infestation but I’ll save that post for another day.
Cover your pile with a tarp or just let it sit. If you do cover it with a tarp, feel under the pile in a few months and you’ll likely discover heat, even in the midst of winter! This shows that decomposition happens in real life.
One steamy tip? Savvy gardeners place this leaf pile where they desire to create a new garden bed the following year.
Before you cover your leaf pile with a tarp…let the kids jump in it a few times. Okay, maybe a couple of hundred times first!
6.) Create a leaf pile and cage it
7.) Begin full scale composting like a champ
8.) Use the leaves for sheet composting in your raised beds or perennial flower beds
It certainly allows us to start the season off right the following year. Weedless. Yay!
One spectacular option for your leaves it to dispose of all your leaves in the garden and cover them with either newspaper or cardboard. You can do this in your raised beds, perennial beds or any garden planted directly in the ground.
Then you layer compost or mulch on top. Not only will the weeds be smothered but you’ll add organic matter back into the soil. Everyone wins.
In spring, the goal is to be able to plant directly in the soil when you turn it under. It’s a good idea to spread tarps over the compost to allow that decomposition to happen even faster.
When those big gust of wind come up in winter it’s smart to lay rocks or bricks at the corner of each tarp to keep them in place until spring.
Quick recap: Layer 1.) Leaves 2.) Cardboard or newspaper 3.) Compost or mulch 4.) A tarp.
9.) Bag and store your leaves for down the road use
Secret Code: Spice
10.) Kick em to the curb….
To level with you 100%, when my kids see leaves in the street raked by the meticulous homeowner, they are unable to resist temptation and jump in your pile! So I apologize ahead of time.
And for those of you who bag your leaves? Yep. Guilty is charged. Tom and I will haul your bagged leaves away in our mini-van for future use in our garden. So thanks for bagging them for us!