Leaves, Mulch, Leaves

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Leaves, Mulch, Leaves

It has begun; the annual ritual that lasts all too long – fall leaf collection.

From rooftops and gutters, driveways and sidewalks and from beneath shrubs and garden plants, they are relentless in covering everything. And yet, in spite of the time required each weekend devoted to this intrusion on my landscape, I appreciate the gift they are providing for my garden.

There was a time years ago, that I, like all my neighbors, would hastily gather up these leaves and place them into bags or blow then onto the street, so someone could come along and pick them up and haul them away. For me, those times are long gone. For many years now, like so many others, I gather my leaves from most parts of my landscape and yard. But that’s where the similarities stop.

Knowing how much pollution is emitted from those gas-powered blowers, I rake my leaves into small piles and then spread them out into wider, shallower patches. The exercise from this activity is the added benefit. Next, I blow of the dust and cobwebs from my gas-powered lawnmower that now only gets used at this time of year for the following purpose. I proceed to run over the piles until the leaves are shredded into small pieces. The final step is to redistribute them with my rake back into my garden beds. Most of the time, it’s as simply taking broad sweeping action to launch them into the nearby beds. In other cases, they are raked onto a tarp and dragged or hauled away in my trusty garden cart to other parts of the landscape and spread evenly into the beds.

If you haven’t realized by now the method to my madness, leaves are the best mulch and soil amendment Mother Nature has to offer. When I started this practice years ago, over the course of several seasons, the decomposition of the leaves resulted in rich compost that fed the microbes and worms that carried it deeper into the soil. Even better, all that leaf “litter” stayed on my property. It was the best of reducing landfill pressure, reusing a natural resource and recycling, all in one.

Year after year, the reward for my effort is another healthy contribution of organic matter that continues to improve my soil and a rewarding way for my plants and garden to thrive, naturally.