Eco Tip: Use Your Fall Leaves to Feed Your Trees

Marsha Low, Weavers Way Environment Committee

If you’re lucky to have a garden of any size, chances are you’ve been out working in it during a time when we all need to stay at home and practice social distancing. If you usually get a delivery of mulch around this time every year, it may be that the nursery or landscaping business you order from is closed. Or you may feel uncertain about ordering any.

If you’ve either raked your leaves this past fall to save for composting, or left leaves in place over the winter to shelter the beneficial insects that hunker down under them and protect your plants, you’re in luck; dried and shredded leaves make great mulch. If hardwood mulches aren’t left to age for several months after chipping or shredding, they will rob your soil of nitrogen and harm your plants as they decompose. They’ll compact over time, block rain and nutrients, and may develop unsightly patches of mold. 

If you’ve bagged or placed leaves in a container, you can take them out and run your lawnmower over them to shred them and then place them around your plants, two to three inches deep. If you still have leaves in your beds, you can either rake them up and run the lawnmower over them, or, if you have a smaller garden area, just crush the leaves with your hands, since they are completely dried out. 

There are great benefits to using leaves as mulch. For one, using leaves instead of ordering mulch will save you money. For another, over time the leaves decompose and enrich your soil. If you are blessed with many trees on your property and still have dried leaves remaining after mulching your garden, you can compost the rest.