What to Do About Leaves?

Since fall is approaching at breakneck speed it's worth taking time to mention one of the most important aspects of fall - the leaves!  Or more specifically what to do with them!

First here's what not to do with your fall leaves:

  1. Don't burn them - the most wasteful thing you can do.  
  2. Don't bag them and put them by the roadside for garbage truck to pick up - this is pretty wasteful too.
  3. Don't let them smother your newly sown grass - rake them up and move them to the compost bin (see below).

Here's what to do with your fall leaves:

  1. Ground up leaves make a great fall mulch for my hydrangea bed!
    Use a chipper, shredder, or lawnmower to grind them up then...
  2. Use for an awesome mulch which is made from free organic material! (I like the words "free" and "organic" don't you?)
  3. Place them in your compost bin to build up massive amounts of leaf mold for your compost bin to change into "gardener's gold."
  4. Till or mix them into your vegetable garden.
  5. Use them in your next layered garden bed (Lasagna Gardening anyone?)
  6. Give them to the happy little worms in your worm composter!
  7. If you don't want them then give them to your gardening neighbors and friends - they will love you for it!

Leaves are one of the best resources you can add to your soil either through composting, mulching, layering (sheet composting), or even just grinding them up with your lawnmower. Leaves add organic matter to the soil which improves the moisture holding capacity and provides nourishment for better microbial activity.  Burning leaves in the fall puts, as is a common practice, isn't necessary.  Burn diseased plants like your blighted tomatoes but don't burn the tree leaves!  Also if you have black walnut trees you may not want to use their leaves. A chemical in the leaves called juglone inhibits the growth of other plants. (Check out this article from WVU on juglone for more info.)

What are you doing with your leaves?

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