As a new gardener in soon-to-freeze Midwest, I have noticed the
following irony: We as well as our neighbors are raking bags upon bags
of autumn leaves from the front and back yards and discarding them. At
the same time we are buying mulch to protect newly planted perennials
during the winter.
An obvious question is, could we use those leaves as mulch? I get
enough to make as thick a layer as needed?
An obvious "yes." Rake the leaves evenly into garden areas where they'll
break down feeding microorganisms which in turn produce additional
nutrients, all the while suppressing suppress weeds. It's even an
attractive mulch and the decay of leaves is a most plesant smell.
I have several trees but never enough leaves. This week I've been down the
block cleaning leaves off sidewalks, putting them in big buckets, bringing
them home to put on fallow areas of the gardens. Can't get enough of that
-paghat the ratgirl
visit my temperate gardening website:
Better yet, look for your neighbors who have vacuumed up their leaves
with a lawn mower. You get a dual benefit here. The leaves get chopped
up and mixed with some grass (green component for mulch to go with the
I normally do not use a grass catcher. but let the mulch blade on my
mower cut it up and allow it to fall on the lawn. However, I try to
time my last cut of the year using the catcher to vacuum up the leaves.
It is much more efficient than raking. I take the vacummed content to
my three mulch piles to add to the treasure I have gleaned from my
neighbors. Several villages around me actually pay waste collectors to
take away their leaves for possible reuse at a compost facility. I
wonder if anyone has calculated how much energy is being removed from
the lawns of households with a fair amount of leaf fall.
By the way, just piling whole leaves into a mound or into a compost
bin without cutting them up really slows down the decomposition process.
I used to do that and found the leaves sticking together, not allowing
moisture and air ciculation to do their job. It took twice as long for
those leaves to break down as compared to chopped up leaves.
I'm in the UK where most gardeners either gather up leaves and put them
into black plastic bags with some holes in or into a kind of pen made
with chicken wire. They are eventually put back onto the garden when
they have broken down (one or two years here). I don't leave many
leaves on borders, because smaller plants often rot underneath them and
never any on lawns. I mulch with well-rotted compost.
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