As trees transition to dormancy, many have already surrendered their colorful fall leaves back to the earth. Leaf blowers can be heard throughout neighborhoods and commercial properties and homeowners are getting a little more exercise compliments of their trusty hand rake.
This year, instead of cleaning up all of nature’s confetti and sending it off to be recycled, why not put them to good use throughout your yard? From mulching to fall crafts, here are five things you can do with your fall leaves.
Improve your soil by mowing them
One of the easiest ways to clean up fall leaves is to simply mow over them. Start by removing the bag on your mower and setting the blade to the highest level. It’s important that your mower is equipped with a mulching blade in order for this method to be effective. Mowing leaves into dime size pieces helps them decompose more easily, while providing your soil with valuable nutrients and organic matter.
Protect your flower beds
Protect fragile garden beds by covering them with two to three inches of shredded leaves around the base of the plant. Shredded leaves help retain soil moisture and protect against harsh winters. It will also help suppress the growth of weeds come the early spring. Much like mowing, they will also add nutrients to the soil.
Use them as insulation
Leaves provide the perfect insulation around the base of small trees not yet fully developed to endure a harsh winter. First, create a chicken wire cylinder around the base of the tree (about two to three feet up) and pack the cylinder with leaves from your yard. Come the spring, simply toss them into your compost pile for a truly multi-purpose use.
Fall craft projects
We’ve all seen the decorative pumpkin trash bags filled with leaves, but why not step it up a notch and get crafty. From homemade wreaths to leaf coasters, there are a ton of craft ideas to help utilize fall leaves. A simple project is to gather up the most beautifully colored leaves and allow them to dry inside. The color deepens as they dry and makes the perfect autumnal decoration on holiday tables, mantels, in baskets and more. You can also use the leaves to decorate picture frames, paint or apply glitter and then hang them as ornaments or a mobile, glue them to paper and make them part of your kids drawings, and even attach them to the sides of pumpkins for an artful touch.
Don’t let the name “leaf mold” bother you. Leaf mold is the result of wet leaves decomposing into a rich, black, soil-like substance, which helps improve soil texture and fertility. There are different ways to create leaf mold, but simply gathering up your leaves into a container or bag and letting it sit will do the trick. Leaf mold is not only free, but also a very effective natural fertilizer. Leaf mold takes six months to a year to break down completely.