What do with leaves?

We have, what appears at the moment, to have an endless supply of fallen leaves. These should not be wasted. So what can we do? Below are some suggestions.

Create Compost

Leaves are a great source of brown, high-carbon material for the compost pile. Simply alternate layers of shredded leaves with the regular green materialsyou add to your compost pile, such as vegetable and fruit scraps, weeds, grass clippings, and plants that you pull out in your autumn allotment cleanup. Let all of that sit over the winter. Aerate or turn the pile as needed, and by planting time in the spring, you’ll have finished compost.

If you cant make compost at the moment then store some leaves for use in the summer to mix with your grass cuttings and green material.

Make Leaf Mold

Leaf mold is a wonderful soil amendment that is made from nothing more than autumn leaves with a layer of garden soil or finished compost. Layer the leaves and compost and let the pile sit for about a year. And when it’s finished, you have the perfect amendment for vegetable and flower gardens as well as a fantastic addition to potting soil.

Use as Free Mulch
If you can shred the leaves, they can be used as an organic mulch in flower beds and vegetable gardens, around trees and shrubs, and in containers. Simply apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of shredded leaves to the beds, keeping the mulch from directly touching the stems and trunks of the plants. The mulch retains moisture in the soil, helps to maintain a consistent soil temperature, and limits weed seed germination. As a bonus, the leaves add nutrients to the soil as they break down.

Using them just as they are is also a great way to add nutrients to your soil, reduce evaporation and suppress weeds. Over-winter your plot with a 2″-3″ layer and your soil will be ready for planting in the spring.

More tips for making Leaf Mold.

Check out the RHS website with more help and advice on leaf mold.

2 thoughts on “What to do with autumn leaves.”

  1. Peter. I am no expert but I am told that oak leaves take longer. Mixing leaves with green stuff (nitrogen) speeds the process. Its a long term process but then so is improving your soil. Plenty of leaves in stock so grab your share. I have mixed some leaves with wood chip so I will see what happens. As long as everything is wet it should be good stuff this time next year, I hope.

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  2. Great ideas John. I’ve overlooked this natural source of compost, mainly because it takes so long to make compost. Are some kinds of leaves better than others? For example decompose quicker?

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