Last weekend was a brilliant one. The sun shone with not a cloud in the sky and daytime temperatures were reminiscent of any great summer day. I am sure there were more than a few of you who stepped into the garden to take advantage of the warm weather, by starting your garden clean up. There are spring bulbs to plant, summer bulbs to lift, perennials to divide and faded annuals to clear out before the snow flies. While you are at it, you can clean and store all your gardening tools. Plus, the last of the lawn mowing means that it is time to put your mower away too.
Now just hold on for a second here though. While the grass might be going dormant, you can still use your lawn mower for another task before you winterize it. What else can you use a lawn mower for, you wonder? Well, how about for shredding some leaves for instance. Yes, the cool nights mean that the leaves are beginning to change colour and slowly fall to the ground. Instead of just bagging them to the curb though, why not think about using them for mulch or compost instead.
If you haven’t ever considered using your leaves for anything other than stuffing Halloween displays, you are missing out on some gardening gold here. While you do not want to leave them scattered thickly on your lawn, as they will choke out the grass underneath, there are a few things that you can do with a tree’s fall refuse. So grab your gardening gloves and lets explore the difference between leaf mulch and leaf compost.
Let’s look at using leaves for compost first. Whether you are making compost or mulch, one of the first things you should do with your leaves is shred them. This allows them to break down easier and faser. Grab your lawn mower and run over them with the mulching setting. Once they are shredded, go ahead and toss them into your compost bin. You will also need to add green items, like kitchen scraps and grass clippings, plus you should turn your pile every few weeks. Don’t forget to keep it moist as well! Before you know it, you will have nutrient-rich compost that you can dig into your garden next spring. For more information, here is a short video that gives you some more tips.
You can certainly buy bags of mulch at your local garden store, but why would you, when Mother Nature provides mulch for free in the form of fallen leaves? If you hadn’t thought of leaves as mulch material before, why not? They provide natural protection to keep in moisture and minimize heat, cold or wind damages. They also serve as a natural weed barrier. Plus, once they break down, they return their nutrients back into the soil as compost. You can’t beat that, especially when it means that you don’t have to slug bags of leaves to the curb.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much time or energy to better utilize the leaves that fall into your yard. So this Autumn, consider your leaves as a gift from the trees and save them for mulching or composting.