If you’re like the majority of homeowners, as soon as leaves start to change color, all you can think about is the daunting, mundane, difficult task of raking up all those [beautiful] leaves and hauling them to the curb for disposal. (If only they would just stay on the trees, where we can enjoy them!!)
Did you know that you might not have to rake them at all?? All those little leaves can actually be useful once they’ve fallen! (Do please check with your HOA or Town bylaws before following these suggestions. This may not work for everyone.) As with all dead/dying/decaying plant material, fallen leaves can provide a lot of nutrients and act, essentially, as free fertilizer. Who doesn’t love free?!?
First, instead of picking up a rake, fire up the lawn mower. Set the deck very high, the highest setting possible is usually best, and mow over the leaves as they lay in your lawn and mulch them into something that looks like confetti. You may first have to spread them out a little bit, (no rake necessary, just do so quickly/lazily with your foot ????) if any areas/piles are thicker than 3-4″, just to ensure that everything gets chopped up nicely. Once sufficiently chopped/mulched, here’s a few great uses:
- Leave them in place on the lawn, as they will act as free fertilizer, returning nutrients and organic matter back to the soil. Lawn grass benefits greatly from having ground leaves on the surface; by spring, leaf remains will not be visible and the lawn will return thicker.
- Spread chopped leaves on top of perennial beds to treat as winter mulch. Not only will they provide insulation, they improve the soil quality as they break down over winter. Leaves make amazing mulch for newly planted bulbs or fall perennial planting that may be susceptible to frost heaving. You can shop Bulbs online! Now is the time to plant them!
- In the vegetable garden, till chopped up leaves into the soil. They will decay over the course of winter better than leaves left whole. In the spring the soil surface will be free of leaf litter clumps and easier to sow seeds.
- If making your own compost, chopped leaves give you the benefit of “Brown material” to add into your compost pile. Again, leaves are full of great nutrients such as Nitrogen!
*Content provided by Netherland Bulb Company