Everybody knows that the absolute best use for fallen leaves is to rake them into a high, crunchy pile in the middle of the lawn and then jump in. Second best? Use fallen leaves as mulch. Here’s how:
Photographs by John Merkl for Gardenista.
Need to know: Deciduous leaves are packed with the same minerals as fertilizer you buy. Use leaves as mulch in garden beds: it prevents weeds, encourages worms, and makes heavy soil fluffier.
Keep it simple: You can mulch two ways, with shredded leaves (if you have, say, a lawn mower) or whole leaves.
If you don’t have a mower or shredder, mulch with whole leaves. Spread a thin layer of leaves in garden beds so water still can penetrate to plants’ roots.
Step 1: Rake leaves into a pile.
Step 2: To mulch with whole leaves, use a pitchfork to spread a 1-inch layer evenly around the roots of plants.
Step 3: To make shredded mulch, rake leaves into a long row about a foot wide. Then run a lawn mower over the leaves, back and forth, a few times. Spread a 1-inch layer of shredded leaves around the roots of plants.
Need a sturdy rake? See two of our favorites at High/Low: Steel Rake.
N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published October 24, 2013.