How To Reuse Dead Leaves This Autumn — Autumn Gardening

There are many ways to repurpose fallen fall leaves. Instead of tossing them, recycle dead leaves into awesome mulch, use them as fertilizer or mow over them to keep your lawn healthy all year round.

“Dead leaves can be a nuisance, but they’re also an excellent resource for gardeners if used correctly,” says Graham Barrett, gardening expert at “Just make sure they’re not too wet when you collect them—otherwise they won’t break down as well in the compost heap.”

Read on to find out how to repurpose dead leaves this fall:

1. Mow over the dead leaves

One way to enrich the soil is to use dry leaves as an organic fertilizer. Do you mow your lawn before winter comes? Lay fallen leaves over your lawn and watch as the blades shred and mulch them. This is especially good if you find moss growing on your lawn, as mulching will help prevent moss from taking root.

Graham adds: “Mowing over dead leaves is also beneficial for your plants. Over time, the leaf particles are broken down into nutrients that help your plants build resilience by developing more robust root systems.”

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2. Add them to a compost heap

Composting foliage is a smart way to create nutrient-rich garden soil. You can either make compost from just leaves or combine it with other organic materials like grass clippings and kitchen scraps.

To make your pile, simply stack the leaves in a corner and leave them there. Eventually they will break down into rich soil that can be used as fertilizer for your plants. You should leave it there all winter, turning the pile occasionally to aerate it. Once spring arrives you should have excellent compost to mix into your garden soil.

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3. Make a leaf shape

According to RHS, leaf mold is formed from rotting leaves and produces an invaluable soil conditioner. Do you want to try it this fall? All you have to do is rake the leaves into a big pile in the corner of your yard. After a year, the leaves should have dissolved and be ready to use. Place it on your vegetable and flower beds and let the leaf shape do the rest.

4. Use them for mulching

Mulching leaves is like adding free compost to the lawn. “Dead leaves make a great mulch because they’re easy to collect, last longer than other types of mulch (like hay or newspaper), and don’t need to be replaced as often as other types of mulch, like pine needles or bark nuggets. ‘ explains Graham.

To do this, shred the leaves with your lawnmower as soon as they fall (make sure they are dry). Pile all your leaf scraps together and remember to keep them moist. Moisture and darkness accelerate decomposition.

leaf mulch

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5. Insulate your garden shed

Garden sheds are notoriously difficult to heat and maintain during the winter months, but did you know that dead leaves can be used as insulation? Graham suggests stacking your leaves inside the structure and then covering them with a layer of plastic wrap. The plastic keeps moisture locked in and also protects the leaves from being blown away by strong winds. Clever!

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6. Protect your root vegetables

Dead leaves can help isolate root vegetables, including carrots, kale, and leeks. Just cover your existing plants with the leaves and they should be harvesting all fall and winter. It’s a sustainable way to ensure they weather the upcoming winter weather.

7. Bring in the leaves

“Dead leaves can be used as a unique and beautiful decorative element in your home,” says Graham. “If you have some hanging plants or planters, try placing some long strands of dead leaves around them for an interesting effect. You can also create an autumnal decoration by assembling a few different types of dead leaves on the table or on the shelves in your living room or kitchen. It’s simple but effective!”

8. Turn the leaves into wall art

Add a touch of nature to your home by pressing leaves between two sheets of paper to create beautiful botanical prints. For best results, choose smooth-surfaced leaves such as oak or beech rather than prickly holly or hawthorn. It’s the perfect five-minute DIY job for fall (and will look great for years to come).

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