It’s already Fall, and the trees are already starting to shed. And that means a lot more of work cleaning the yard. It cannot be helped.
On the other hand, once you start getting those dead and dry leaves, do not just throw them away if you have a garden. One of the best ways to protect your plants against the incoming winter is to use dried and dead leaves as mulch to keep them warm during the cold weather.
Aside from protection, autumn leaves are rich with trace minerals that can serve as fertilizers for your plants, too. It also helps beneficial microbes to thrive, and they are excellent food for earthworms that keeps your soil “healthy.” The leaves also lighten heavy parts of your soil. In case your soil is sandy, it will provide assistance by keeping more moisture.
The easiest method to collect these dry leaves for mulching is to use a lawn mower. Use the bag attachment on your mower, and go through the leaves. Aside from ease of collecting them from the ground, the mower will ground those leaves, too.
Shredded leaves are easier to use as mulch. They can be also packed tightly, which can make them more useful in insulating cold and preventing air and water to penetrate your plants. In addition, ground or shredded leaves make it easier to microbes to proliferate. Some gardeners even buy leave shredders just to obtain these benefits.
You can either dump the leaves on a pit or leave them in the bags and store them in your garage or barn (if you have one) if the weather is still warm. If it is getting colder, start with your potted plants. If snow is not to be expected yet, just cover the sides of the pot. If snow will be there in a few days, lightly pack a few bags of dried leaves over them. It will be enough to insulate them against the freezing climate.
In a nutshell, autumn leaves can be a pain to clean and collect, but they are too beneficial for gardeners to ignore and waste. Some of its uses are:
- Protecting your plants by insulating them from the cold weather
- Balancing your compost pile’s nitrogen and carbon
- Improving the health of your soil and encouraging beneficial earthworm and microbe activity
By the way, do note that not all leaves from trees are beneficial to use. Leaves from Camphor Laurel, Eucalyptus, and Walnut have substances that discourage plant growth. Put these trees’ leaves in a compost before you use them on your plants or soil.
Also, to improve the effects of the leaves on the soil, add a bit of slow release nitrogen fertilizers on them. It will make the leaves decompose faster, and prevent microbes from using all the available nitrogen on the soil and leaves.