Autumn leaves: 4 clever uses in the garden

Every year in autumn, gardeners get down to rake up dead leaves as they fall… an extremely time-consuming activity. This represents a considerable volume and many gardening enthusiasts tirelessly commute to the local waste disposal center to get rid of it. It’s a shame, because they represent a gold mine. Stop wasting them! Here is a little spotlight on the four uses common dead leaves which, in autumn, are picked up by the shovel…

1 – Turn dead autumn leaves into potting soil

If so far the management of dead leaves throughout the fall has been an ordeal, it should quickly become a real pleasure for gardeners. The reason is simple: they naturally turn into soil. It is enough for that to rake them when they are wet because it is easier then, ideally, to go to the grinder (the mower is perfect for this) before storing them in a corner of the garden.

When they have dried well, they can be locked up in bags dotted with a few holes. All you have to do is let nature take its course. Within 8 to 12 months, the dead leaves will decompose and turn into a excellent soil which can be used when the planting season is in full swing.

Note that we can create a compost of dead leaves specifically adapted to heathland plants. It must be sour. For this, we select leaves rich in tannins, which is the case of beech or oak leaves.

2 – Enrich compost with dead leaves

The leaves that litter the ground in autumn can perfectly be added to various organic waste tossed in the composter. This hodgepodge of materials will gradually metamorphose into compost, a famous fertilizer for use in the vegetable patch, orchard and ornamental garden. It is still necessary to know the origin of these leaves to be certain that the compost obtained is suitable for the plants concerned.

3 – Turn dead leaves into mulch

When they are raked, dried and then crushed, the dead leaves of autumn represent an ideal mulch. You can therefore place a layer of about ten centimeters in beds, flower beds, at the foot of roses, isolated trees and shrubs or in hedges…

Many gardeners particularly invested in the recycling plant waste make their homemade mulch from dead leaves and grass clippings. It’s a very good idea. There are even some who, once the mulching is complete, deposit a little rock powder on this protective carpet.

4 – Protect potted plants from the ravages of cold

Dead leaves are a gift of nature that can also benefit plants grown in pots. They need to be protected against frost. If you have a place to overwinter them, that’s perfect. But that’s not always the case.

We then take care to deposit a layer of sand on the surface of the substrate, to place bins, planters and pots of all kinds in a corner well sheltered from the cold winds then we caulking them as we can, for example with old boards. All that remains is to fill in all the spaces with the dead leaves that have been left to dry beforehand. It is also necessary to put a layer on the pots in order to hide the base of the plants.

Dead leaves are a effective coverage which protects the roots of the plants as much as the containers, the latter being likely to be damaged by severe frosts if we are not careful.

Using dead leaves: the benefits

Finally, the recycling of dead autumn leaves is useful on many levels. This allows:

  • Of make savings since we reduce the purchase of bags of soil, fertilizer and mulch of all kinds,
  • Of pay less fuel the fact that it is no longer necessary to go to the recycling center to get rid of dead leaves,
  • Of reduce your carbon footprint. Indeed, if all gardeners used their dead leaves shrewdly, it would considerably reduce the unnecessary back and forth by car or van between their garden and the recycling point. A huge number of tonnes of CO2 at stake!

The raking dead leaves is indispensable. You might be tempted to leave this pretty carpet on the lawn, but it’s far from a good idea because it would quickly be suffocated. This is also without taking into account the risks of seeing the proliferation of harmful insects and cryptogamic diseases.

It is still important to take a few precautions so that the use of dead leaves in the garden only brings benefits. The leaves of diseased trees should be burned. Using them as mulch, as compost or potting soil would only contaminate the plants. As for dead leaves from beeches or oaks for example, they are not suitable for aromatic plants and should not be used in the vegetable garden either because the acidity level of this compost is too high. Rhododendrons, camellias and other hydrangeas appreciate it well on the other hand.

Leave a Comment