Well, it is that time of year again. It is time to rake all the beautiful fall leaves that once brought you great joy as you gazed at their colors and now bring your headaches because they have all fallen on your lawn. What do you do with them all? Where did they all come from? You begin to wonder if that one tree in your yard could truly be the source of the millions of leaves. Composting leaves is a great answer to your leaf clean-up woes.
Before you invest in all those leaf bags, which are usually made of plastic (not good for the landfills or environment), why not consider leaf composting? After all, you have been wanting to improve your soil in the gardens. Composting leaves is easier then you think and it is relatively free. You have a few options:
You can add the leaves to your household waste compost bin. Dry leaves make a great addition to any compost pile. The nitrogen in the leaves aids in breaking down the other compost ingredients.
You can put the leaves around your bushes and shrubs to help protect them from the harsh winter that is only months away (if you live in that kind of climate).
Sheet composting Composting leaves does not come much easier then this. Take your newly raked leaves and spread a thick layer over your garden area. A six inch layer of leaf waste (mix some household compost waste with it) will decompose over the winter. Next spring you can work the finished compost back into your soil before you plant your new crops.
Lasagna gardening This does sound like a yummy new recipe for vegetable lasagna, but it is another for composting leaves. Pick an area in your yard, smother that grass (or weeds) with overlapping thick layers of cardboard or newspaper, wet that layer thoroughly with water, layer 2-3″ of compost or composted manure (store bought or bagged is fine), a layer of household waste can be put down near the ground, then 4-5″ layer of those newly raked leaves. This is where the lasagna name comes in, alternate the compost and leaves until you achieve a height of 24 inches. You will have the perfect soil to plant in the following spring.
Plastic Bag Method Instead of dumping those leaves in plastic bags and letting them fill up the landfill, use those plastic bags for composting leaves. Fill the plastic bag with leaves, add a shovel full of dirt, moisten your mix, poke holes in the bags, and shake every few months. You should have a usable mix, in the spring.
Composting leaves does not have to be as painful as raking all the leaves off of your lawn. Composting leaves can be a wonderful source of personal achievement, at least you get something in return for all your efforts.