Fall is great for shuffling through layers of dried, fallen leaves. I love the smell, sound and feeling of the leaves underfoot. But leaves are also a great resource for your garden, lawn and yard. So, let's look at five ways to use those leaves in the garden.
On your lawn, it's best to leave the leaves. A thin layer of fallen leaves on the lawn can be chopped up with a mower and left to decompose. Earthworms and other soil creatures will chomp on the leaves helping create a healthier soil beneath the grass. Researchers have also found that chopped leaves left on the lawn reduces the incidence of dandelions on the lawn in spring.
Of course, if you have a thick layer of leaves left on the lawn, this may harm the grass. You may need to rake or bag some of them. Take those raked or shredded leaves and layer them in the garden on top of the vegetable and flowerbeds. They will slowly break down, feeding the soil.
If you still have extra leaves, make a leaf mold pile. This may not sound very attractive, but it's harmless and doesn't create a mess in the yard. Encircle the leaf pile with metal fencing and after a year or so, it will turn into useful compost for your garden and plants.
Finally, if you need to protect newly planted garlic, tender rose bushes or other perennials, use the chopped leaves as insulation piled around the plants in November. Just makes sure you use shredded leaves. Whole leaves will mat and can cause plants to rot.