How Leaves can Improve Your Landscaping
Fall is currently covering our lawns with a colorful, crisp, beautiful mess. While a few leaves scattered across your lawn can be pretty, a big pile of leaves covering your yard is not – especially if your home is on the market. But you don’t need to rake them.
Many people don’t realize that those leaves are actually part of having a healthy, beautiful landscape. Think of it as nature knowing exactly what the grass and plants in our yard need to thrive. It makes environmental sense too - nature didn’t intend for us to pile up all of our leaves, bag them up, and fill a landfill with them.
In fact, 18 to 50 percent of the waste in our landfills comes from something categorized as “yard waste,” which is not a wise choice. This organic waste material actually could be feeding our lawn, or supplying a compost pile with valuable nutrients.
A dose of plant nutrition
As nutritious as leaves are for your lawn, there are certain things you must do to in order to use them to your advantage. A thick cover of leaves across your lawn actually could be bad for your grass because it holds moisture, which promotes damaging fungal growth. Not healthy. But, if the leaves are dry and broken up into small pieces, they don’t hold moisture – just nutrients. Here is how to use your leaves to your advantage.
Feed your lawn
Mow over them. It’s that simple. Use a mulching mower, preferably one with a collection bag, and this allows you to tear up the leaves into small pieces. Any clippings that remain after this mowing process are typically small enough to break down easily, not hold moisture, and will feed nutrients slowly into your lawn.
You can use this leaf confetti in flowerbeds too. Just mow them up and empty the collection bag into a compost pile. Occasionally, leaves will have to be mowed several times, especially if you don’t have a mulching mower – but it’s worth it!
Gather them for the garden
Your vegetable garden can benefit from leaves too. Rake them up and add handfuls to your garden soil to feed the soil throughout the winter. You will need to bury the leaves several inches down, which is easily done with a garden rake. There they will break down on their own and make your garden soil nutrient-rich for spring planting.
Save them for your woodstove
Another use for dried leaves is as kindling for the woodstove, wood-burning fireplace or your fire pit. The key here is the leaves must be dried out and then stored in a cool, dry place. Then you can use a handful as kindling each time you start a fire.
A study by Michigan State University indicates that mulching is 100% beneficial for the lawn. These leaves are decomposed by microorganisms and earthworms and turned into plant-usable organic matter. Wise homeowners use this natural material to improve the health of their lawn and garden, making the most out of what Mother Nature provides for free.
Want more home care tips? Check out the home care section of our blog.