How To Reuse Dead Leaves This Autumn — Autumn Gardening

There are plenty of ways to reuse fallen autumn leaves. Instead of throwing them, recycle dead leaves into fantastic mulch, use them as fertiliser or mow over them to keep your lawn healthy all year round.

“Dead leaves can be a pain to deal with, but they’re also an excellent resource for gardeners when used correctly,” Graham Barrett, gardening expert at beanbags.co.uk, says. “Just make sure they’re not too wet when you collect them — otherwise, they won’t break down very well in the compost pile.”

Keep reading to find out how to reuse dead leaves this autumn:

1. Mow over the dead leaves

One way to enrich soil is by using dry leaves as organic fertiliser. Cutting your grass before winter arrives? Lay fallen leaves across your lawn and watch as the blades chop them up and distribute them as mulch. This is particularly good if you notice moss growing on your lawn, as mulching will help prevent moss from taking over.

Graham adds: “Mowing over dead leaves is also beneficial for your plants. Over time, the leaf particles will be broken down into nutrients, which help your plants build resilience by developing more robust root systems.”

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2. Add them to a compost pile

Composting fallen leaves is a clever way to create nutrient-rich garden soil. You can either make compost with leaves alone or combine with other organic materials, such as grass clippings and kitchen scraps.

To make your heap, simply pile up the leaves in a corner and leave them there. Eventually, they will break down into rich soil that can be used as fertiliser for your plants. You’ll want to leave it there all winter, turning the pile occasionally to aerate it. As soon as spring arrives, you should have some excellent compost to mix into your garden soil.

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3. Make leaf mould

According to the RHS, leaf mould is formed from decaying leaves and produces an invaluable soil conditioner. Want to give it a go this autumn? All you need to do is rake the leaves into a big pile in the corner of your garden. After a year, the leaves should have disintegrated and will be ready to use. Place on your vegetable and flower patches and let the leaf mould do the rest.

4. Use them to mulch

Mulching leaves is like adding free compost to the lawn. “Dead leaves make excellent mulch because they are easy to collect, last longer than other types of mulch (such as hay or newspaper), and do not need to be replaced as often as other types of mulch such as pine needles or bark nuggets,” Graham explains.

To do this, shred the leaves using your lawn mower as soon as they fall (make sure they are dry). Pile all of your leaf scraps together, remembering to keep them moist. Moisture and darkness help speed up the decomposition.

leaf mulch

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5. Insulate your garden shed

Garden sheds are notoriously tricky to heat and maintain during the winter months, but did you know dead leaves can be used as insulation? Graham suggests piling your leaves up inside the structure and then covering them with a layer of plastic sheeting. The plastic will keep the moisture locked in and also protect the leaves from being blown away by strong winds. Clever!

summer houses

Country Living Flintham Traditional Summerhouse, £1,830, Homebase

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6. Protect your root vegetables

Dead leaves can help to insulate root vegetables, including carrots, kale and leeks. Simply cover your previous plants with the leaves and they should harvest throughout autumn and winter. It’s a sustainable way to ensure they survive the wintery weather yet to come.

7. Bring the leaves inside

“Dead leaves can be used as a unique and beautiful decorative element in your home,” says Graham. “If you have some hanging plants or planters, try placing some long strands of dead leaves around them for an interesting effect. You can also create an autumnal display by putting a few different types of dead leaves together on the table or shelves in your living room or kitchen. It’s simple but effective!”

autumn leaves

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8. Turn the leaves into wall art

Add a touch of nature into your home by pressing leaves between two sheet of paper to make lovely botanical prints. For best results, choose leaves with smooth surfaces such as oak or beech rather than prickly holly or hawthorn. It’s the perfect five-minute DIY job for autumn (and will look great for years to come).

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