by Daisy Luther
Is your yard covered with autumn leaves? It’s just about raking season for all of us with yards and trees. While most people set their leaf bags at the curb for the garbage collectors, frugal people know that there are useful things they can do with fall leaves.
So while you’re making your house nice and cozy inside for winter, here are some tips for getting the outside ready too. And what better way to get it ready than with something that most people throw away. If you’re a Frugalite, I know you love free stuff as much as I do, so read on for a dozen things to do with fall leaves.
Why are fall leaves so good for your garden?
You’ll notice that a lot of the suggestions below are about using leaves for your lawn and garden. You might be wondering why.
Fall leaves are loaded with soil nutrients, and because of this, definitely have a place in your lawn and garden instead of the curb. But why are leaves so good for your soil?
Leaves are one of the best ingredients for healthy vegetable garden soil. They contain all three major plant nutrients (nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus), plus mineral micronutrients that plants need. These nutrients and micronutrients become available to plants through decomposition by soil microbes. Earthworms pull leaf pieces down from the surface, eating them as they tunnel through soil. The worms aerate and fertilize the soil with their castings (poop), making nutrients available to smaller soil critters and microbes, including the beneficial bacteria and fungi that play a major role in the decomposition and growth processes. (source)
If you are interested in other garden amendments, check out this article about building healthy soil.
12 things to do with fall leaves
Some things to do with fall leaves were recommended in this article about decorating your home for fall. Here are 12 more things to do with fall leaves that you may not have considered.
- Make “bouquets” with them. If you find some leaves still attached to a small piece of tree branch, you can stick it into a mason jar for a long-lasting centerpiece.
- Use them as mulch. While you CAN use them whole, if you shred the leaves, you create a nice protective mulch to put around the base of perennial plants to feed and protect them over the winter. If you don’t have a leaf shredder, you can run over a pile a few times with a lawnmower.
- Make leaf mold for your garden. These composted leaves are actually a great soil amendment. Here are specific instructions on how to make a leaf mold compost.
- Make an autumn leaf garland. Go for a nature walk and pick up the prettiest and most colorful fall leaves. When you get home, use yard, twine, or some other kind of cord to make a pretty garland. Simply tie the leaves to the cordage by the stem, then hang these over doorways, windows, banisters, and mantels.
- Leave them in the yard. Leave them (get it) in the yard so that they can feed your lawn all winter long underneath the snow. Go over them with a lawnmower to break them down.
- Use them in your root cellar. If you have a root cellar or basement, dry leaves can be used instead of newspaper for layering the vegetables you are keeping fresh down there. (Make sure your leaves are dry before using them for this purpose.
- Insulate baby trees. If you are growing some new fruit trees or other perennial plants, encircle them with chicken wire or another malleable wire fencing. Then stuff leaves down into them to protect your plants from the harsh winter.
- Make leaf art. Use those floating frames with glass on both sides and choose the most beautiful leaves you discover to turn them into art.
- Cover your garden with them. When you rake up your leaves, put them in your garden. You can lay plastic tarps over them to help them break down over the winter and nourish your soil.
- Add them to your compost pile. Put your leaves into your compost pile and stir them in for added nutrients.
- Make falling leaf window décor. Collect a whole bunch of pretty leaves. Get long pieces of transparent fishing line and tie leaves randomly to the line. Hang each line from your curtain rod. As people move through the room or a breeze passes through, the strands will move and give the impression of falling leaves.
- Make a pile for jumping in. Duh. This probably should have been first! Is there any better fall activity than jumping into a huge pile of freshly raked leaves? Only laying in the pile or burying each other in it. It’s a great way to spend some time playing outdoors whether you’re old or young.
What do you do with fall leaves?
Do you have any fall leaf uses that I missed on this list? If so, please share them in the comments!
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media, and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at Learn.TheOrganicPrepper.com. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.