Fallen Leaves Have Benefits

raking-your-leaves-and-what-to-do-with-themIt took you all day, but you’ve finally done it: you’ve raked all the leaves on your lawn into one heaping yet somehow tidy pile. But the moment of admiration for your work is short-lived as you begin to realize that you have no idea what to do with your massive collection of colorful tree parts. You could simply throw them away, but why not get some more mileage out of your hard work? There are numerous ways to make good use out of the leaves on your lawn, and below, we’ve listed a few of the possibilities:

Mow Them For Lawn Fertilizer

Mowing the leaves on your lawn is probably the easiest solution. Insert the mulch plug into your lawn mower, and shut the side discharge port. Then, simply mow your lawn as you would normally to cut the leaves into small pieces. Repeat the process once at right angles to your initial path to ensure that the leaves are cut finely. The nitrogen in the grass clippings mixed with the carbon of the leaf pieces will compost more quickly when they are mixed together.

Mulch Them Into Your Flower Beds

Finely chop up your leaves and place them in your flower beds as mulch. Installing a bag on your mower works well. Using your excess leaves as mulch can increase water retention, add vital nutrients to the soil, and sometimes suffocate unwanted weeds in your garden beds.

Add Them To Your Aquarium

If you have a fish tank at home, placing dead leaves in their water can help maintain a healthier environment for your aquatic pets. Dead leaves will release tannins into the water, lowering the pH level to more suitable levels. Dead leaves can also help fight bacteria and fungi, and can even absorb some of the heavy metals in the aquarium water. You can also place some at the bottom of your tank can help improve the health of newly acquired or sick fish. As an added bonus, many fish will even eat the leaves for a snack.

Donate Them

This one might seem a little odd, but it’s not uncommon to find a nearby neighbor or a friend on Facebook who is looking for extra leaves. Bag them up and connect with your social networks. You might be surprised by the demand!

Whether you need mulch, compost, or even a few materials for an art project, there are numerous practical and creative uses for your fall leaves. Just be sure you don’t let a blanket of leaves suffocate your lawn all winter!

Curious about the best ways to turn your fall leaves into fertilizer? Contact Ryan Lawn and Tree for expert advice from your trusted Ryan Pros.


There are 2 comments

  1. Phoebe 3 years ago

    Hello, I was wondering if you could answer some of my questions about leaves for a school project I am doing.
    1. What is water retention in soil? And how will it improve the soil?
    2. Is there anything we can do with dead leaves (other than using them for compost) that will benefit us.

    • Ryan Lawn & Tree 3 years ago

      1. Water retention is the ability of the soil to hold onto water. Think of it like a sponge. A sandy soil would be a small sponge with very large holes in it. It will not be able to hold on to very much water. A clay soil would be a much larger sponge with very small pores (like a car washing sponge). Once you get that sponge soaking wet, it holds a lot of water and takes much longer to dry. But the opposite is true for air movement. Don’t forget plant roots need air to breathe. So roots can grow healthy and deep in open/air filled soil and they won’t grow as deep in a heavy/clay soil. So there is a fine balance. We want good water retention, but we also want good air infiltration.

      1b. The only way to improve soils is with the addition of organic matter. The organic matter will great larger pores which help air movement into soils and it also creates smaller pores that increase water retention. Adding clay to a sandy soil or sand to a clay soil is never recommended. Clay+Sand=cement. So if you get the wrong kind or wrong proportion of sand or clay your soil will be much worse. The standard recommendation is to add about 2-3 inches of compost to the soil and till it in to about 6 inches deep. Which can be done in gardens and flower beds. But it is much more difficult in a lawn situation. You could do this before establishing your lawn or many times, people will top dress (lightly spread a thin layer) compost over the lawn, once or twice a year for many years in a row.

      2. You can mulch the leaves back into the lawn with your mower, as long as it the mulched leaves do not smother the grass. I probably would not mulch all my leaves into the lawn every year. Tree leaves can take longer to break down and repeated mulching of large quantities of leaves into the lawn can make the lawn puffy and actually decrease the water retention ability of the soil. Mulch them for around your flowers, veggies, and mulch some of them back into the lawn.

      If you have any more questions, visit our Ask Dr. Rodney page where you can ask the lawn doctor any question about your lawn.


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