Gardening organically since 1968



tree with red fall leaves

3 Things To Do With Your Leaves

Leaves are a valuable resource

Open Copyright Pam Walatka

Your leaves are golden. Rather than send them out with the trash, keep them in your yard as valuable soil conditioners and mulch. Here are three things you can do with leaves.

  1. Leaf Mold Rake your leaves into a pile and let them sit until they turn into dirt. The dirt they turn into is called leaf mold and is a wonderful soil conditioner. Dig it into your garden beds as you would compost. The breakdown method is a bit different from compost--it works by fungus instead of bacteria--but the results are similar: soil that contains beneficial organisms and structures from previously living things. The soil on earth is made of things that used to be alive. You need life to make earth and earth to make life.

    Bring your patience. This process takes two or more years. Once you get it going, you have an abundant supply of premium soil for free. Your piled-up leaves provide a nice space for pollinators such as butterflies to reproduce.

  2. Mulch Rake them onto your garden beds as mulch. Or leave them where they lie. Also, you can mulch with partially-broken down leaves from a pile you made previously.

    Details: On the parts of our yard where the surface is dirt with growing things, I leave the leaves where they fall. The leaves very gradually decompose, improving the soil. Meanwhile, the new leaves are mulch.

    On our wooden decks, we rake all the leaves onto our adjacent citrus trees. As more is added, the bottom layer is decomposing. The layer of leaves never gets much deeper, because the bottom part is becoming dirt. Several times a year, I pull back a strip of the mulch under the drip lines. I dig compost and fertilizer into the ground along the strip, then pull the mulch back onto the strip.

    My sister piles leaves on her rose garden and never adds anything else. Her roses are awesome.

    Of the leaves that fall in our driveway, half get raked under fruit trees and berries. The other half get raked onto the leaf mold pile. Sometimes I use partially broken down stuff from the leaf mold pile as mulch for my smaller plants.

    I mean, go ahead and mulch trees and bushes with freshly-fallen leaves. Use leaves from last year, partially broken down in your leaf mold pile, to muclh around smaller plants.

  3. Compost Add them to your compost pile. You can chop them up by running a lawn mower over them, because they break down slowly, or just pile them on, perhaps stirring occasionally. If you do not chop or stir, you may find clumps of partially-broken-down leaves in your compost. I just crumple them with my fingers.

See also: Compost Frequently Asked Questions.

To ask questions or make comments, join Facebook Lazy Compost Club

Happy Gardening!


(I guess another thing would be to let a kid jump in them.)

See also our other sites

The Invasiveness of Native Plant People
me-yoga-wide Pam's Yoga Fitness--free online yoga
beach house Beach houses for rent in Nicaragua
/ Mountain Neighbors Helping Neighbors 95033
esalen Esalen in the 1960s

Privacy Policy
Web work and hand-crafted HTML by Sandy Johan and Pam Walatka
2023 Creative Commons Copyright--Ok to share for non-commercial use
email: pam@pamwalatka.com