How to Use Leaves From the Trees in the Fall

Use-Leaves-in-the-Fall Gardening

Fallen leaves in the fall garden can serve as good material for making compost or mulch. Leaves by themselves do not improve the soil, but they do create leaf mold, a valuable addition to the garden soil. Leaves should be collected as soon as they begin to fall from the trees in your garden. This is when they contain the most nitrogen, and their cells are still pliable and easy to decompose. In addition to releasing nitrogen, fallen leaves harden their cell walls and become resistant to breakage. Leaves decompose slowly: a pile of unshredded leaves without added sources of nitrogen can sit for years before they decompose completely. You can speed up the process by mixing fallen leaves with grass. Shredding leaves is necessary to produce quality compost. This can be done with special devices – shredders.


If you use leaves as mulch, they can be left directly under trees, shrubs, and plantings to protect the soil from the cold. Generally, mulching directly on the lawn increases the aeration and friability of the soil, making it more fertile. It also lowers the nitrogen-to-carbon ratio of the soil. The large amount of shredded leaves left on the turf results in a covering of leaves the following spring, which prevents new grass from growing. If you have a lot of leaves, it is recommended that you store them in piles to use later as mulch. Yes, they will lose some of their nutritional value due to leaching and gassing. But in the spring, they will help retain moisture in the soil throughout the growing season and gradually become part of your garden. The decomposition that occurs during storage is beneficial because mold is produced from the leaves.

Leaf mold

It is prepared in much the same way as mulch, but with a little nitrogen added to the leaves. In contact with soil rich in beneficial microorganisms, the leaves will gradually turn into leaf mold. The rate at which this happens depends largely on the size of the leaves (i.e., whether they are shredded or not). If you even just leave the leaves where they fall, it will eventually lead to the formation of mold. Creating leaf mold in a garden bed can greatly increase the amount of fertile soil. Filling the bed with shredded leaves in the fall and turning them into soil as quickly as possible is one of the most beneficial things you can do on your plot in preparation for the winter season. Covering a bed with plastic for the winter can speed up the assimilation process.


Leaf compost is prepared just like any other material. Since leaves are mostly carbon (60 parts carbon to one part nitrogen), it is important to pay special attention to the carbon-nitrogen balance. The right ratio of leaves to manure, for example, will not only produce a more nutritious product, but it will also make compost faster. Five parts leaves to one part manure will heat up a compost pile. One way to prepare compost is to rake the leaves right over the crop residue at the end of the season. After that, work the entire plot to shred the leaves and herbs and mix them with the soil. Adding a small amount of manure or fertilizer will help balance the carbon balance of nitrogen. After about a week, mechanical processing of the prepared mass is done to break up the leaves, combine them with the soil, and provide aeration.

Jonathan Harvey
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