How to Turn your Leaves into Mulch or Compost

Are you faced with the dilemma of what to do with all the leaves that nature has deposited on your lawn? Removing leaves from your lawn is an important part of fall lawn care. If left on your lawn, leaves can damage your lawn by smothering the grass underneath. They can also allow fungus or disease to spread from dampness trapped beneath. Instead of collecting and throwing your leaves away, they can be put to better use by being turned into carbon-rich mulch or compost that can be used for your lawn and garden.compost pile

Mulching Your Leaves

One of the easiest ways to deal with your leaves is to run your lawn mower over them to shred them to prevent them from matting on your lawn. This will help breakdown the leaves faster and provide your lawn with added nutrients. It is important to fertilize your lawn every fall and the addition of leaf mulch will help get your lawn ready for spring. Mulched leaves are good for organically fertilizing and insulating your garden beds from the cooler temperatures. They can also prevent unwanted weed growth during the off-season.

Building a Compost Pile

Compost differs from mulch because material has decomposed. You need to have the right balance of green/nitrogen-rich organic matter (think grass clippings, coffee grinds) mixed with brown/carbon-rich organic matter (shredded leaves, shredded newspaper). Fall lawn care time is a good time to get started with composting because of the abundance of leaves to help you achieve a 2:1 Carbon-Nitrogen compost ratio. Place all your compost ingredients in a bin and make sure to keep it moist and aerated by turning frequently for several months. When your compost is done, it will turn dark and crumbly. It is then ready to be used in your garden beds.

By Photograph © Andrew Dunn, http://www.andrewdunnphoto.com (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons