Now that it is the middle of fall, you may have noticed that the leaves on your trees are turning from green to yellow and also causing a big mess in your yard. If you’re anything like me, you may rake up all of the leaves, place them in plastic bags, and leave them by the curb for the garbage truck to pick up. If I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have been throwing away any of those bags because they contain twice the mineral content of manure when decomposed! Here are a few ways to take those messy leaves and use them to your advantage.
We all may get a little lazy sometimes, but leaving piles of leaves in your yard can do more harm than good. Diseases and pests begin to harbor and harm your grass, which will cause problems in the future for plants that may be planted beneath them. I have two suggestions for you to prevent this from happening.
#1 Shred or Mow the Leaves
If raking is just too much for you, which I completely understand, you can always shred the leaves. If you don’t have a shredder, you can always get the same results by mowing the leaves instead. This is a great hack because the leaves are rich in minerals, so the shredded leaves will give your grass many nutrients and shading to help it feel and look nice and healthy. It also helps in fewer weeds. Keep in mind, the finer it is shredded the better!
#2 Remove the Leaves
For those who don’t mind a little hard work, you can simply pick up the leaves and compost them. You can do this by using a compost bin if you have one, or a plastic bag. After you rake up all of your leaves, place them in the bag and then pour water over the leaves if they are dry. Afterwards, puncture a hole into the bag and wait for the leaves to compost. It usually takes about 2 to 3 years for them to break down nicely.
Not all leaves are good leaves, some may contain herbicides that prevent seed from germinating. Here is a list of good leaves to compost and a list of bad leaves to put by the curb:
Good leaves: Ash, Cherry, Maple, Poplar, Willow
Bad leaves: Beech, Birch, Oak, Magnolia, Holly, *Eucalyptus, *Black Walnut
*these leaves should be avoided because they release chemicals that stop plant growth. Such as herbicides.
To Use or Not to Use: The Color of the Leaves
Your compost pile needs an equal amount of browns, such as dead leaves, and greens, such as grass clippings, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds. You can use your compost in many ways. For example, you can dig it into your soil to improve the structure of your plant, spread it on the surface and use it as a mulch, or use it as a basis for your own potting soil.