The best ways to use fallen leaves in your garden this autumn
Autumn is here, or as they call it across the pond, fall. Autumn brings many delights: stunning colours, conkers, acorns, bonfires, and of course Halloween. And alongside them comes the relentless fall of dead leaves from the trees. It’s easy to see the leaves in your garden or the footpath outside your house as a nuisance. They can be slippery and downright unsightly.
But, before you bag up and discard the fallen leaves from your garden, wait a second.
We’re here to tell you these leaves aren’t just a sign of the end of summer. They’re not only there to slow down the trains!
Dead leaves are great for much more than kicking and jumping in. although we definitely recommend giving that a go to boost your mental health!
Those pesky fallen leaves are bursting with good stuff for your garden.
And what’s more, they’re completely free.
Don’t bag up dead leaves and leave them to rot. Read on to discover four easy ways you can embrace nature’s autumn gift and use fallen leaves in your garden.
Use dead leaves to enrich and improve your garden soil right now
Perhaps the easiest way to use the leaves is simply to mix them into your garden soil. Leaves are packed full of microbes. And don’t forget nutrients – including Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus and Magnesium.
Mixing shredded leaves into heavy clay soil will lighten it, and it will improve other types of soil too. Come Spring, you’ll have nutrient-rich soil, full of earthworms.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and get busy with that garden fork.
Before you start, there are a couple of important things to remember.
First, it’s best to shred the leaves first to speed up the whole process. It will help break the leaves down so they can do their magic. Second, it’s recommended to add slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. This will help the leaves decompose and keep the soil in tip-top condition.
Mow over the dead leaves to improve the health of your lawn
Like everything else in the garden, lawns need some TLC to stay healthy. So leaving fallen leaves on your lawn is actually a good thing if you want a greener, lusher lawn next year. They’ll also help with pesky lawn problems like moss.
There’s no need to rake up all the leaves from your lawn.
But, it’s not quite as simple as leaving a thick dark mat of leaves on the lawn. Mow over them weekly with a special mulching lawnmower – or even your existing lawnmower. This helps the leaves break down and release their nutrients into your grass.
Make use of the leaves as ready-made mulch for your garden beds
Mulching is a gardening technique with tons of benefits. In winter, mulch will insulate and protect the roots of delicate plants and improve soil quality. In summer, mulch can reduce the need for watering by aiding moisture retention in the soil and it helps keep weeds away.
Shred the dead leaves first to use them as mulch. This is best done using a lawnmower when they’re dry but you can do it by hand if you’re so inclined.
Then simply add a layer of your new mulch to garden beds, making sure to avoid plant stems.
Compost is a rich soil that makes a brilliant plant fertiliser. But there’s no need to buy new bags of compost each year. Instead, make your own. With a bit of time and patience, dead leaves make great compost.
So grab a compost bin or simply create a compost pile in a corner.
Add those fallen leaves. Of course, you can also fling in vegetable peelings, grass cuttings and more.
Give the pile a turn occasionally to help the air circulate and break the compost down. Add water if it looks dry.
In spring, mix your new compost into your garden soil.
It’s also worth knowing that you can save some (dry) leaves and mix them into what you add to the compost bin in spring and summer for added carbon.
Make the most of autumn
After the busy summer season and before the winter sets in, enjoy Autumn’s delights. Make sure to check out our blog 9 Tips for Preparing Your Garden for Autumn.