You may have already noticed the trees shedding thousands of leaves. Most people rake them up, put them in plastic bags, and leave them to be pickup up. But they don't belong in a landfill - there is a better way!
If you have a garden, lawn, trees, shrubs, or even planter boxes or house plants, then you have a use for fallen leaves as compost. Beside, our landfills are already filling up at an alarming rate. At least 20 percent of the solid waste generated by Texans throughout the year comes from grass clippings, tree leaves and other landscape wastes, which costs taxpayers more in service fees while removing nutrients from the environment! It makes no sense to send valuable treasure to the dump!
*Tree leaves and other organic wastes form a natural carpet over the soil surface which conserves moisture, modifies temperatures and prevents soil erosion and crusting. Over time they naturally decompose which supplies the existing plants with a natural, slow release, valuable form of nutrients. In fact, they contain 50 to 80 percent of the nutrients a plant extracts from the soil and air during the growing season.*
Be thankful for fallen leaves because when you bag or burn them, you are throwing away free fertilizer!
Here's the best thing to do: Follow the"Don’t Bag It" Leaf Management Plan
*There are 4 basic ways in which leaves can be managed and beneficially used, rather than bagged up and hauled to landfills*
Leaf Management – Mowing
A light covering of leaves can be mowed, simply leaving the shredded leaves in place on the lawn. This technique is probably the most efficient and easiest way to manage leaf accumulation.
Leaf Management – Mulching
Mulching is a simple and effective way to recycle leaves and improve your landscape. Leaves can be used as a mulch in vegetable gardens, flower beds and around shrubs and trees. Top benefits to mulching:
- Reduces evaporation from the soil surface.
- Inhibits weed growth
- Moderates soil temperatures.
- Keeps soil from eroding and crusting,
- Prevents soil compaction.
- As organic mulches decompose, they release valuable nutrients used by your landscape plants.
Tip: A lawn mower with a bagging attachment provides a fast and easy way to shred and collect the leaves, and gives you an alternative option to raking. Plus leaves that have been mowed or shredded will decompose faster and are more likely to remain in place than unshredded leaves.
Leaf Management –Soil Improvement
Your soil needs to be rich and healthy to grow happy plants. Leaves may be collected and worked directly into garden and flower bed soils to improve the soil health.
- A 6 to 8 inch layer of leaves tilled into a heavy, clay soil will improve aeration and drainage. The same amount tilled into a light, sandy soil, will improve water and nutrient holding capacity.
- A recommended strategy for using leaves to improve soil in vegetable gardens and annual planting beds is to collect and work them into the soil during the fall. This allows sufficient time for the leaves to decompose prior to spring planting. Tip: Adding a little fertilizer to the soil after working in the leaves will hasten their decomposition.
Leaf Management – Composting
Knowledge of composting dates back to the early Greeks and Romans. Every resident who has a landscape should also be composting organic materials (from fallen leaves to kitchen scraps). It's the cornerstone of landfill waste reduction and we can use it to improve the soil and health of our plants and landscape as Mother Nature intended.
What is compost? Compost is a dark, crumbly form of organic matter that has gone through a natural decomposition process.Compostingis simply managing that natural decomposition process for OUR BENEFIT! The process is easy and can be carried out in different methods. Further composting info and tipshere.
Compost can be used to:
- Enrich the soil by adding a natural source of nutrients.
- Loosen tight, heavy soils.
- Help sandy soils retain moisture and nutrients.
- Add to potting soils for container grown plants.
- Mulch around landscape plants.
Organic materials such as fallen leaves should NOT be classified as waste. Their death and decay brings newness of life. It’s time to take action and stop throwing out what we can recycle and reuse! So this fall DON'T BAG UP YOUR FALLEN LEAVES - COMPOST INSTEAD!
**Additional directions and information regarding Leaf Management and Composting can also be found at The Aggie Horticulture website.
Fall is a great time to plant in the garden, have new beds installed, add color, or plant new shrubs and trees. Plants will have more time to put down roots and acclimate to their new location before the onset of next summer’s heat.