Tips for Dealing With Excess Fallen Leaves

Waking up to a yard full of fallen leaves is a consequence of having deciduous trees. Dead foliage has unmistakable charm, but such litter can negatively impact your garden. Consider these seven tips to declutter your yard whenever fall rolls around.


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  • Compile Them With the Right Tools

Piling all dead foliage from various areas in one place requires proper tools. A 30-inch-wide rake designed to prevent skewering debris can get the job done on the ground quietly. Its size allows you to cover plenty of real estate and gather leaves of different sizes and shapes quickly.

Choose a spot where you want all leaves to end up and start raking toward it as far away as possible. On a breezy day, rake in the direction of the wind. If your yard is too expansive, put the little into leaf bags or tarps to corral or haul considerable loads of leaves faster.

Alternatively, use a leaf blower. This machine can be loud but efficient. It can handle the job when a rake is unfit — like when the terrain is rocky or when the space is finished. A leaf blower is also suitable for removing moisture-trapping organic buildup from your roof.

Regarding collection, turn to a leaf and litter vacuum. Some models are more portable than others, but all can bag leaves scattering around your yard quickly. Be mindful of twigs and rocks, though, because they can damage your equipment’s impeller.

  • Consider Timing

Leaf removal can be a taxing chore. Should you do it incrementally or all at once? It depends on how much patience, time, and energy you have.

If you can tolerate the leaves lying around for a long time, wait for them to fall before decluttering your yard. Taking this route is time-efficient, but you risk depriving your grass of the sunlight it needs to grow. Deal with fallen leaves every weekend to make it more manageable if your body can’t handle such an exhausting task due to your physical condition or mold allergy.

Moreover, the weather adds complexity to the job. Rain and wind make it more challenging to rake and collect leaves, so take advantage of calm, sunny days.

  • Make Leaf Mold

Creating leaf mold is a way to break down fallen leaves using fungi. The product is a soil amendment, a material meant to improve the soil’s condition. Once decayed, the leaves become a dark, spongy substance rich in magnesium and calcium and emit a forest smell.

Making leaf mold is simple — just collect your leaf litter and let it sit in a corner or a bin. You can use a hand-held leaf blower to move the leaves in your yard into one spot. Then, the pile only needs moisture to degrade. Cover the pile with a tarp to keep it damp and cool, creating the perfect decomposition conditions. Turn it every few weeks with a shovel or a pitchfork to ensure everything decays evenly. Expect the finished product in about a year or so.

Want to create leaf mold while keeping your yard neat? Use plastic garbage bags. Wet the leaves inside, seal them, and poke holes for airflow. Check them every now and then, and add water when the bags’ contents begin to dry.

Leaf mold can serve as a base material for homemade potting soil. Blending equal parts of it with perlite makes a loose, soilless mix. You can also use it as mulch to suppress weed growth.

  • Double Down on Composting

Compost relies on bacteria to break down leaves. Composting is more physically demanding than the set-and-forget method of making leaf mold, but the composted leaves contain more nutrients to fertilize the soil and are free of pathogens and pests.

Follow these steps to compost leaves:

  1. Put dry leaf litter directly into your garden soil or in a bin.
  2. Add an equal layer of high-nitrogen matter, such as food scraps and manure.
  3. Alternate layers of dry leaves and nitrogen-rich items until the pile is three feet tall and wide.
  4. Transfer the compost to another stack or bin once a month.
  5. Water dry patches and dry soggy or rot-smelling areas with leaves or sawdust, ensuring everything has the same moisture level and a damp sponge appearance.
  6. Monitor moisture levels regularly until the compost becomes dark, smells earthy, and has a crumbly texture.

If you perform the steps correctly, you can have finished leaf compost in a few months. Otherwise, you may have to wait for more than a year. Shredding the leaves, turning the pile frequently, and moistening it whenever you turn it can speed up the process.

You can feed aged compost to your plants and crops in various ways. You can mix it with topsoil or add it as a side dressing to nourish garden beds for new and existing plants. It’s also an organic mulch that can inhibit weeds.

  • Donate Them

Can’t create leaf mold or compost? Bring your pile of dead foliage to a commercial or public composting facility. Fellow gardeners may find your unwanted resource useful for their leaf-molding, composting or mulching projects.

Use eco-friendly bags to haul them securely. Avoid sending them to landfills because they take up space reserved for nonrecyclable waste and release methane as they decompose. As a greenhouse gas, methane is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the planet.

  • Think Twice Before Burning Them

Burning loose leaves in your yard can make them quickly disappear, but it may be illegal in your area. And legal or not, it’s unethical. This activity pollutes and releases irritants into the air. It can evolve into a fast-spreading fire, result in massive property damage, and endanger people’s lives.

  • Be Crafty

Dead leaves make lively home decorations, such as Thanksgiving centerpieces, autumnal garlands, and wreaths. Leaf rubbing and painting is a fun activity for children.

Incorporating dry leaves into resin paperweights, sensory jars, and gel air fresheners also make beautiful and thoughtful gifts for your nature-loving friends and relatives. You can even sell your local crafts and profit from your yard’s waste.

Make the Most Out of Fallen Leaves

Leaf removal can be strenuous, but it doesn’t have to be an exercise in futility. With a resourceful mind, you can enrich your garden with them and keep your yard clean.