How to Use Fall Leaves

This time of year many of us are going to have a layer of leaves all over the lawn.  Many people simply rake and bag them to put on the street for the trash men to pick up, others will even pay someone else to do this.  But there are more options for what to do with this fantastic free garden resource.

Fall Mulch

Mulching with leaves can have a drastic impact on your garden’s soil mineral content.  Not only do the leaves of many deciduous trees have an NPK of around .5, .1, .5, but they also have calcium, magnesium, and other minerals drawn deep from underground by the trees roots.  Along with providing a slow release fertilizer for your garden a thick layer of leaf mulch applied in the fall or winter will insulate your soil, providing a more hospitable environment for earthworms which will feed on the leaves all winter.

Leaf Mold or Compost

Leaves can also be bagged and kept for leaf mold.  Leaf mold can help aerate clay soil or help water retention in sandy soil.  But it will take years to make and not everyone has the space or the patience for that.  Some of the benefits can still be had simply by adding the leaves to your compost pile.

Spring Mulch

If you do bag your leaves for leaf mulch only to find that you don’t have the space to store the bags, or that you are just not patient enough to wait 2 years for the results all is not lost.  You can take the partially broken down leaf mold which will still resemble its original state, and apply it as a thick layer of mulch in spring or summer.  It will not heat up the way grass clipping do, and leaf mold, even partial leaf mold, can hold up to 3 times it’s weight in water, reducing your need to irrigate or hand water, and keeping your crops happy in warm weather.


This year, don’t waste your time and energy to just throw away a free resource that could have powerful benefits for your garden.

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One comment on “How to Use Fall Leaves

  1. I would like to know, what you do to prevent the proliferation of incects like, Rouches ECT.when you use the tree leafs for mulching. My wife is terrified of them..

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