Yard trimmings, including garden refuse and fallen leaves, made up 7.20% of the total landfill materials for the US in 2018. This roughly equates to 10 million tonnes of waste. The sad thing is that there really is no need to let autumn leaves being sent to the landfill, because there is a good variety of ways we can reuse them. As a rule of thumb, the first thing to do is check with your local authority if a curbside collection is available for you, because that could help relief the amount of leaves you will be dealing with during the fall. Alternatively, if no curbside is offered, here below you can find 5 different ways you can use fallen leaves that ended up in your garden.
1. Plant Insulation
This option tends to stay "off the radar", but it is super smart: you to circle the tree or plant with some sort of fencing, with a radius of about 30 inches, then stuff your dry leaves inside the fencing to create the insulation. The plant will be comfortable during our cold winters. Similarly, you can stuff large bags of dried leaves and store them in enclosed spaces (like a garden shed for example) to keep the ambient warm.
2. Compost Piles
Compost is made of two parts: green wet materials and brown dry materials. And guess what? We have both handy in our garden. Green material can be grass clippings, whereas brown material can be our dry leaves. Mix them together and let them rest / compost for a good few months; it works even better if you have the chance to shred the leaves. The end result will be a phenomenal earth enriching formula to feed your greens with! Oh, if you come across wood sticks, keep them as kindle for your future fireplace or barbecue.
3. Dry Garden Paths
I am not fond of wet muddy terrains, and it is very annoying when your garden becomes a whole muddy surface. One little trick is to use dried leaves in the fall to create little paths running along your vegetable growings. They will soften (and eventually get soggy), but will still manage to keep the path clear and visible. Unless of course you are dealing with 20 inches of snow...
4. Craft Activities
This would probably need a whole new post because, apparently, the crafts you can create with dried leaves are endless. This blog post, for example, lists 39 uses. The options range from activities to do with your children, to cute little holiday gifts, to unique decors to lighten up your festivities. My favorite are those brown leafy placemats.
5. Lawn Food
This one is the "lazy" way. In practice, it entails just mowing the leaves down right into your garden: they will be chopped down, and will slowly make their own way downwards. Their carbon rich elements will provide important nutrients to your lawn and its inhabitants.