Autumn is often appreciated for its colors which are a real delight for the eyes! The green gives way to a cameo of golden and orange hues for the greatest pleasure of the youngest and the oldest, all lovers of beautiful natural spectacles. At least, we appreciate it until the dead leaves end up on the paths! Then begins the heavy task of collecting the dead leaves without a leaf blower for the gardener.
And if instead of throwing them away in the dump and complaining about this heap of leaves, you decide to reuse them in a useful way to have a more positive view of them? For that, we give you all our good ideas and uses to recycle these beautiful autumn leaves! What to see differently this chore!
Basic precautions with dead leaves
Only healthy leaves from your trees and shrubs should be used for most tips. This excludes those that are covered with micro-organisms, parasites or bloom as well as those that are spotted with black. It would even be advisable to burn them to avoid the spread of cryptogamic diseases.
1) Protect fragile and cold plants with a layer of leaves
Winter can be harsh and result in roots and bulbs freezing (especially on summer bulbs such as dahlias, which you can’t necessarily bring in). As a result, the plantations rot and your plants die! Your arums, fuchsias and other agapanthus always come out in a bad state. Take leaves and spread them on the ground as a protection. Unlike straw and regular mulch, these leaves will not soak up frozen water, which makes the greenery freeze more than anything else! With a forcing cloth or a grid, it won’t budge, but avoid packing.
Tough leaves [oak, privet, beech, palm laurel…] are perfect for beds and offer excellent protection. The larger ones [chestnut, plane tree…] are ideal for shrubs, the smaller ones [cherry, hornbeam, hazelnut, willow…] are more suitable for perennial beds [arums, fuchsias]. And if you have a pine tree, the needles can protect hostas or any plant that slugs like a little too much.
2) As mulch for bare soil
These soils are sensitive to rainfall, which causes them to be compacted and beaten. They can also freeze in winter. So you can preserve these areas for spring or dispose of them at this time of year to prevent weeds from growing. Just lay down a thick layer! This will protect the ecosystem inside, the decomposition will provide food for animals (thus making it a fertilizing organic material) and it can also protect the crops even in cooler weather! The best idea is to cover the whole thing with a good layer of moistened wood ash to make it hold and make the soil even richer.
3) Fertilizer, the easy way to use dead leaves
You can make a pile with wet leaves at the bottom of the garden and protect with a tarp under which you let it decompose. You can also use a silo. You will then need to stir from time to time and moisten or add nettle slurry in case of dry weather. This will make a good humus. To obtain a good compost of dead leaves, the simplest solution is still to put the whole in big garbage bags (with some holes) and to forget them during 18 to 24 months.
4) Head to the composter
You can also put them with the rest of the compost by alternating layers with green waste. To do this, make a layer of about 20 centimeters with the leaves and put organic matter rich in nitrogen on top (dried blood, poultry droppings, roasted horn…). You can also put liquid manure or fresh nettle or comfrey leaves. The heaps must remain aired and moist. After 6 months, you can add nitrogenous materials. After a year, you can use it, but if you are patient, you will have an excellent soil in 2 or 3 years.
Contrary to popular belief, tough leaves are not impossible to use. Just spread them on the lawn and run the lawnmower over them so they mix with the grass, get enriched with nitrogen and can decompose better (and faster). However, if you put leaves from fruit trees in the compost, never put it under another fruit tree to avoid the spread of diseases between them. A small shredder can also do the trick.
5) Leaf nests for hedgehogs
These adorable animals are very useful in the garden and feed on a lot of undesirables (grubs, earthworms, spiders, snails…) while leaving your delicious vegetables alone. Unfortunately, they are rare, but if you come across them on your little plot of land, you can make little nests of leaves and twigs for these little animals that are active at night.
6) We make art out of it!
Well… when we say art, it’s probably an exaggeration, but many craft activities can include these flamboyant little plant treasures. Just avoid leaves that are too fragile, damaged or have holes in them. There are techniques to keep dry leaves in good condition, such as putting them between two sheets of wax paper and ironing them, or covering them with white wax or glue varnish (to keep their shape and color for a long time). Putting them in the microwave (keeping an eye on them to prevent them from catching fire) to dry them and then applying a touch of acrylic varnish can also work.
I have 30 years of experience and i started this website to see if i could try and share my knowledge to help you.
With a degree a Horticulture BSc (Hons)
I have worked as a horticulture specialist lead gardener, garden landscaper, and of course i am a hobby gardener at home in my own garden.
Please if you have any questions leave them on the article and i will get back to you personally.