Just as a coupon queen looks at the Sunday food ads as money at her fingertips, when you see what leaves can do for your garden, you are never going to want to bag them up and leave them for trash pick-up day again!
Once you think the leaves from your trees have served their purpose, hold on, they’re not done yet. When you see what additional benefits they offer your yard and garden, you are going to realize that their benefits are endless.
5 Ways Leaves Are Good for the Garden
1 – You won’t have to buy mulch for your yard
Many gardeners purchase mulch to keep weeds out of their lawn but you can just as easily use your leaves to do the same thing. In addition to keeping your lawn hydrated, they can serve as a decorative touch in place of certain types of mulch.
Replacing mulch with your shredded leaves is more convenient, costs nothing, and the leaves are much lighter to arrange than heavy bags of mulch.
2 – They can serve as compost for your garden
If you have been cultivating a compost pile, adding your leaves to the mix can add much-needed carbon to the green grass clippings that are already there. If you don’t already have a compost pile, just check out the sites that are on the internet that tell you exactly how quick and easy it is to do.
This will give you a great place to put your leaves from outside and a valuable place to put food scraps, coffee grounds, and other nutrient-rich items you have leftover from inside your home.
3 – They can be used to protect smaller plants during colder weather
Even if you live in a warm climate, there are going to be times when the days and nights turn more chilly than normal. If you have precious plants in your garden or in pots arranged in beds around your yard, you can take your leaf shreds and arrange them so you plants are protected against the colder temperatures.
Just take piles of leaves and place them around your plants gently building them to about six-inches thick to keep them from the cold windy weather. You can even keep your vegetables cozy enough so they can continue to deliver produce throughout the year.
4 – You can turn them into leaf mold that can nurture the organic fruits and vegetables in your garden
Leaf mold may not sound like anything you want to cultivate, but once your leaf clippings have been put into a place where they can sit undisturbed for any length of time, your patience will pay off.
Once the leaves break down the result is a substance that is dark in color that smells like the good earth and is able to help the plants’ soil retain moisture and absorb fertilizers.
Leaf mold can increase water retention by up to 50%. Unlike compost, it does not add any nutrients but is able to help the hydration levels.
5 – They will turn into a soil amendment, rich in nutrients for your lawn
If you are new to gardening, or you just aren’t sure what soil amendments are, it is not anything complicated. Soil amendments simply put are materials that are able to fill in areas that are missing in order for you to have all the elements of a perfect lawn and healthy plants.
While no lawn is ever perfect, there are a number of things that are needed to make them the best that they can be. In order to not only look good but be in top shape, the soil for a nicely landscaped yard needs to have several vital conditions: key nutrients, the right level of hydration so that the roots are able to properly develop yet not be drowning, and the right texture.
When leaves are shredded and applied to your lawn and plants they are able to provide you with a soil amendment at no charge.
How to Properly Shred Your Leaves
The simplest way to shred your leaves is to mow over them several times. You want to get them into small pieces. You can also use a vacuum used for leaves or purchase a leaf shredder.
Once the leaves are shredded, the process is adapted according to what you are going to be used your shredded leaves for.
- For mulch: If you have a mulch setting on your lawnmower that’s about as easy as it gets. If not, just mow over the leaves and then distribute them over your lawn and plants. It is not recommended to use full-size leaves as mulch because it can attract bugs and insects and prevent your grass from growing.
- To add to your compost pile: Once you shred your leaves with the lawnmower they can go right into the compost pile. They will be able to decompose faster the smaller they are in size. Make sure that the leaves you use for your compost pile are not diseased in any way.
- To protect your plants: Here is where you don’t need to shred your leaves. If you are creating a 6-inch wall of protection you can use different sized leaves in their entirety. Bigger leaves will make it easier to cover more ground faster.
- For leaf mold: The easiest way to create leaf mold is to put the leaves in a garbage bag and make sure they are wet. It will take a little bit of time for them to turn into leaf mold but it will be worth it and takes little effort other than making sure the leaves are not dried out.
As a soil amendment: You can spread out a thin layer of leaves in the fall and put plastic over them so that they will decompose faster throughout the winter.
In the spring make sure you dig up the dirt so you can incorporate the residuals from the leaves right into the soil.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.