What to do with fallen autumn leaves

Now that October is here and autumn has firmly set in, falling leaves have begun making their yearly descent and are starting to cover the ground.

Fallen autumn leaves are a nuisance for any gardener this time of year; not only do they make gardens look untidy, leaves also block sunlight and air from reaching the soil. This can cause diseases in plants and may even kill grass and foliage by smothering them. This is only amplified when the rain falls, creating a mat of sodden leaves.

While leaves may at first seem like an annoying inconvenience, they are actually a totally free valuable resource. Countrywide have been tackling autumn leaves for 35 years and we want to share the best ways you can utilise fallen leaves.

Turn autumn leaves into mulch

Mulch is a layer of organic residue that is spread over the surface of the soil. Its purpose is to retain moisture in the soil, supress weeds and improve the soil’s fertility. Leftover raked leaves can easily be made into mulch to improve soil in time for spring.

You’ll first need to shred the leaves using a mower. This is an important step which allows air and water to penetrate the soil and will also aid the leaves in decomposing faster.

Then simply lay the chopped leaves on top of the soil or leave scattered among grass to decompose and seep its nutrients into the ground.

Compost autumn leaves to make leaf mould

If you’re willing to put in a little more effort, autumn leaves can be turned into leaf mould. This organic matter will support the structure of your soil and can be used in place of potting soil, mixed into your current soil or even spread on top of soil to be used as mulch.

To begin making leaf mould, you’ll need to collect fallen leaves and store them in a pile. To do so, you can either construct a simple leaf mould cage made of chicken wire and wood or, for ultimate ease, fill bin bags with collected leaves and puncture small holes to allow the leaves to breath.

Make sure the leaves are shredded and damp when you collect them or spray them with water for ease of decomposition. Then simply leave to compost.

Making leaf mould is a simple enough process but requires a lot of patience – it can take between two and three years to get perfect leaf mould.

Throw autumn leaves into your garden waste bin

If gardening is not your thing, you can always dump fallen leaves into your garden waste bin. This will then be collected by your local constituency (if this type of collection is available in your area) and can be used for open windrow composting. Make sure to only put garden waste in these bins to avoid contaminating the batch.