Did you know that fallen leaves are a valuable natural resource that can provide organic matter and nutrients for your yard and garden? In fact, leaves contain 50 to 80 percent of the nutrients a plant extracts from the soil and air during the growing season.
Unfortunately, at least 20 percent of Texans’ yearly solid waste comes from tree leaves, grass clippings, and other discarded organic materials. Throwing these raw materials in the trash eliminates nutrients from the environment, and costs more in taxes and service fees.
But there’s a better way around that! In fact, we’ve got four ways you can use your fallen leaves to save money and the environment!
1. Store raked leaves.
Put your leaves next to your compost pile so you can combine them with grass clippings next summer.This grass/leaf mix makes excellent compost. Leaves also make an effective soil conditioner when added directly to your compost along with fruit and vegetable scraps.
2. Add to a circle of wire fencing.
If you don't already have a compost pile, toss the leaves into a simple circle of wire fencing. Water well and leave them to decompose and next year you'll have a rich, organic soil amendment.
3. Shred the leaves with a mower.
Or put them into a garbage can and chop them up with a string trimmer. Use this mulch in your garden to enrich the soil and protect overwintering crops.
4. Use a mulching mower to chop leaves.
Allowing most of the flurry to fall back into the grass and decompose. Use any remaining mulch as shrub borders where it will protect plant roots from severe cold.
So next time, instead of raking and bagging leaves for the trash, the most beneficial thing you can to do is to let the rich-in-minerals and organic-matter leaves blanket your top soil. Even when we get a freeze, the bacteria in soil feeds on the decaying leaves delivering carbon and nutrients. It’s that easy to fertilize your spring plants for free!
Learn more about composting at austintexas.gov/department/composting.
Image Sources: foodlifejoy.com; dailyherald.com; garden-photos-com; afelawns.org