Uses for Fall Leaves

Monte(6-NE NJ)January 1, 2013

Fall leaves are routinely bagged and left at the curb. This is a tragic waste of a valuable resource. Below are a few methods of utilizing this treasure to better advantage.

Shread in Place for Lawn Feeding or Stockpiling

If the ammount of leaves on the grass is not too deep you can just run them over with a mulching mower. Make a few passes over the area in different directions and set the deck high. Going slowly and keeping the blade very sharp also helps.

This reduces them to small chips that will readily decompose into the lawn and act as an organic fetilizer.

If there are huge volumes of of leaf you can collect some of the total to use in other ways detailed below.

Leaf Mold

Leaf Mold is the result of cold composting of leaves by a fungal process. The resultant material is a very rich soil additive that can not be beat.

  • Rake the leaves onto a large tarp. You can move a surprisingly large pile of leaves in this way.

  • Drag this to some out of the way corner and set up as large a wire mesh bin as you have room for. Just get some sturdy utility fencing mesh and wrap it into a circuler bin and secure the ends with a couple of snap links.

  • Fill the bin with the leaves wetting them down as you go.

  • To retain moist conditions you can wrap the inside of the bin in 6 mil plastic sheeting and fashion a cover cut from a piece of old carpeting or just use a tarp.

  • Next fall unclasp the bin and move it one side and cover over the now somewhat reduced original pile.

  • Reclasp the bin and reload it with this years crop of leaves.

  • Do this one more time in year three.

You now can harvest and use the very well decomposed material from the original batch and will have created an ongoing system.

Chip and Stockpile

If you have access to a chipper/shreadder you can run them thru it and stockpile the now greatly reduced volume in lawn bags.

If you haven't got a chipper you can collect them with the bagger on your mower. Depending on the effectiveness or your mower this may need two or three passes to reduce the volume sufficiently. This works best if the leaves are very dry and crispy.

  • Rake the leaves into long rows the width of your mower deck.

  • Make a pass over the row.

  • When the bag is full empty it out, again in a long, narrow row and run down the line again.

A couple of passes will reduce most leaves to the size of corn flakes.

These are an ideal "brown" or carbon ingredient for the compost pile. You can also just mulch your beds with this material as it is.

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