6 Ways To Recycle Autumn Leaves

Leaves on a pathway Scoop of Compost Material

Not even cute jack-o’-lantern bags can disguise the waste of all those raked leaves in the fall. Rather than sending them to the landfill, try some of these "green" ways to recycle autumn leaves that are not only kid-friendly, but fun as well!

  1. Make a garden path: Mix whole leaves with gravel or wood chips to create a dry, weed-blocking path through garden spaces. Be sure to exclude black walnut tree leaves; they produce juglone, which is an organic compound that can inhibit the growth of many other plants.
  2. Help your yard, naturally: Take all those beautiful fall leaves and easily turn them into nutrients and shelter for your lawn, plants and garden—here’s how:
    • Make mulch: Shredded leaves make a great organic mulch. The leaves can limit weeds and help retain winter moisture. In mild climates, a bed of leaves can insulate tender plants from winter’s chill. Be sure to shred the leaves, as whole leaves might starve the plants. Only cover plants up a couple of inches.
    • Save for spring compost: If you are composting fall leaves, you may also consider saving a couple of bags—carbon-rich materials can be tough to find in the warmer months. Adding dried-out leaves can provide balance.
    • Add to compost heap: If you already have a compost pile, you can add shredded leaves to it for an extra boost, as they decompose faster than whole leaves. If a home compost seems daunting, city departments sometimes collect leaves for large-scale compost projects.
    • Feed the lawn: Once the leaves have decomposed, the compost is great for the lawn. A thin layer of shredded leaves can break down over the winter and provide nutrients to the grass. However, fallen whole leaves can hurt the lawn over the winter.
    • Mix leaves into your garden: If you don’t plan to maintain your gardens or annual flowerbeds through winter, scatter shredded leaves into them. The decomposing leaves will add nutrients, increase the organic content, improve the soil structure and encourage earthworms, leading to less work in the spring when preparing for another growing season.
  3. Make leaf art: Craft projects using leaves are fun and teach children how to recycle. To make leaf birds, find different colored leaves to make each part of the body. For an extra touch, glue googly eyes, sequins and other items to the leaves. You can also decorate pumpkins with fallen leaves, pipe cleaners and cut-outs using recycled paper bags.
  4. Create beautiful jewelry: Find smaller leaves that would make a nice pendant, or a matching set for earrings. Pick up a bottle of lacquer and some jewelry fixtures at your local craft store, and have a day of making beautiful jewelry; maybe even a whole set!
  5. Use leaf rubbings for fall gifts: Put the underside of a leaf under a piece of paper and rub the side of a crayon over the paper. These beautiful rubbings can be used to make holiday cards or even fall wrapping paper.
  6. Make fall decorations: Finally, fall leaves are a great addition to Halloween and Thanksgiving displays. There are plenty of ways to incorporate the beautiful colors of fall into decorations such as wreaths, window boxes, mobiles and imitation stained glass.

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Winter is closing in fast in New Hampshire. That's ok with me, as I can't wait to go ice fishing. Hard to stay ahead of all the oak leaves coming down. The lawn looks great after the lime and the September and October applications. Can't wait to see how it looks next year. Check Out His Video

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