by Mark Wolfe
It’s fall and you have a million leaves to clean up. What is the best way to get rid of them? There are lots of ways you can reuse fallen leaves to benefit your whole landscape, and save time, energy and money in terms of both disposal and reducing purchases for other projects. The common thread is that the leaves should be shredded so they don’t mat when they get wet, break down far more quickly, and store in a much smaller space than if they were left whole.
The WORX 13 Amp Leaf Mulcher is just the tool for the job: the 11:1 mulching ratio will reduce a yard full of leaves to (and grind them directly into) just a few bags.
1.Mow fallen leaves into the lawn.
Mowing leaves and leaving them in place is the simplest solution, especially in areas with light to moderate leaf drop. Areas with heavy leaf cover may still require a bit of removal to avoid smothering the grass. The shredded leaves decompose over the winter, and with the help of earthworms and beneficial microbes, they increase organic soil content, improve soil aeration and water-holding capacity, increase trace nutrient levels and more. Translation: healthier grass next year.
2. Mulch trees, shrubs and perennials with shredded leaves.
Mulch insulates against temperature fluctuations, protecting sensitive roots from cold damage. Additionally a layer of leaves helps conserve soil moisture while promoting robust soil ecology – just like on the forest floor.
3. Till shredded leaves into vegetable or flower gardens.
Tilling the leaves into the soil allows them to break down more quickly than simply layering them on top. This is important when planning for an early spring planting schedule. Spread 1-2 inches of moist, finely shredded, leaves across the bed and till to a depth of 3-6 inches. In cold regions, insulate the bed and increase soil biological activity with an additional 6 inch layer of leaves on top of the tilled area. When planting time comes, simply rake off the remaining insulating layer and compost it.
4. Temporary uses of harvested leaves are nearly endless,
These include a number of non-landscape ideas. Let the kids have at them for an afternoon once the pile is made. For fun and exercise a leaf pile can’t be beat. Store shredded leaves in plastic garbage bags to keep them dry, and place the tightly closed bags anywhere that you may need a bit of winter insulation. Use the leaves for art projects and decorations like leaf rubbings or a scarecrow. Shredded leaves are also a useful alternative to straw or woodchips for bedding chickens, rabbits and other animals.
5. Make leaf mold or worm compost.
If you want to have greater control over the consistency and placement of the organic goodness provided by decomposed leaves, compost them yourself. Make leaf mold (the sweet smelling stuff on the floor of the forest) by piling shredded leaves in an out of the way place and leaving them to decompose for a year or two. The shredded leaves also work well in a traditional compost pile where they are mixed with a variety of garden and kitchen scraps, breaking down in months rather than years. Worm compost, or vermicompost, is made in containers that can be kept indoors where worms live in a moist bedding material (shredded leaves) and are fed vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and other household plant waste. These composts add a wealth of nutrient and structural benefits to garden soil.
Don’t waste the time and effort of sending your leaves wherever your waste hauler takes them. Give your yard the full benefit of its own production by returning the fall leaves to the soil where they originated.
Check out the selection of lightweight, powerful and ergonomic leaf blowers at worx.com