Want some freebie compost, or a healthy supplement for your lawn? Then take a leaf out of our book: don’t throw out your fallen leaves this autumn - put them to good use instead.
Leaf mould is packed with fabulous properties that boost moisture and drainage - great for use all around the garden.
Start collecting now
If you gather your fallen leaves up regularly, you’ll soon be accumulating a decent amount for your store. Depending on the size of your garden and the volume of leaves, you can use a rubber rake, leaf boards or a vacuum. But collect by hand around flowers and plants to prevent damage.
A covered cage outdoors is a good storage idea if you have lots of leaves, and you can help the process by treading on the leaves and watering them before covering the top of the cage. Keep adding fallen leaves and perhaps top them with an inch or so of soil.
If you’re using big bin liners to store your leaves, make a few holes to let air in and always dampen the leaves with a hose before filling the bags. Tie the tops of the bags and store them away.
3 great things about fallen leaves
Lawns - If you have leaves on your lawn, shredding them finely by mowing them with a rotary mower (use a high cut setting) will speed-up the rotting process and add nutrient-rich grass clippings to the mix. You can leave this on the lawn as a lawn supplement for the winter or add to your leaf mould.
Plants and fruit & veg - The fibre and microorganisms in leaf mould are a healthy addition for bulbs, alpine plants, border perennials, woodland plants and fruit & veg. Use a garden sieve first, however, to filter out any parts that haven’t completely decomposed.
Biodiversity - Birds and insects are attracted to leaf mould - especially if it’s stored in an outdoor cage.
Worth the wait
Deciduous leaves will generally take a year to turn into leaf mould. Others, such as oak and beech, will take two years or more to rot down. Beech, oak and hornbeam are especially good.
So, while it might take a bit of effort and patience, to begin with, your on-tap free store of compost, mulch and soil enhancer is definitely worth the wait.