This year, Toronto experienced a record-breaking heat wave as soon as fall began. Now that temps are starting to cool down, we’re seeing crisp, colourful fall leaves; and soon all those leaves will be falling onto our streets, sidewalks and lawns.
But what happens then?
After admiring the the autumn colours and enjoying a pumpkin-flavoured beverage, that’s when the work comes in for homeowners. While I often dodge this chore, year after year, my family rakes up the fallen leaves, piles them into a garbage bag and leaves them on the curb to be collected by the city.
This fall, however, we will be putting our leaves to good use in our house, garden, and beyond.
1) Sprinkle your plants with mulch
Mulch is a master maintainer for trees, shrubs, veggie crops and flower beds. Best of all, making mulch out of dried lawn leaves is extremely easy.
After shredding the leaves with your lawnmower, sprinkle up to three inches over your plants’ soil but be sure to avoid direct contact with the plants themselves. Instead, work around roots and leaves. This layer of mulch will add nutrients to the soil, retain moisture, regulate garden temperatures and keep weeds at bay.
As the weather cools down this fall, this organic mulch will act as insulation for your tender perennials or root crops stored in the ground. Come springtime, you will find that your soil is significantly lighter and fluffier.
2) Create a compost mixture
The environment will thank you for choosing this eco-friendly DIY. When paired with other organics, such as coffee grounds, sawdust, shredded paper, and egg shells, shredded leaves can be superstar additions to a compost pile.
Like mulch, you simply spread a few inches of compost over your plants and let the mixture settle throughout fall into winter. To perfect your compost recipe, pair carbon-rich leaves with nitrogen-heavy grass clippings.
If you prefer to let leaves fly solo in your compost mixture, make a mould instead. By stuffing leaves into old grocery bags and letting fungi grow, the leaves will eventually decompose to create richer, more fertile soil.
3) Get creative
With infinite crafts to be made with fallen leaves, autumn is the perfect time to get creative. Whether leaves are used in their natural state or preserved with glycerine they can make the essence of the season shine throughout your home.
This season, try incorporating leaves into a fall wreath to hang on your front door or string them along a garland to decorate your mantle.
Growing up, spooky staples in my neighbourhood around the Halloween season were jack-o-lantern garbage bags stuffed with leaves. This not only gets leaves off your lawn, but it is also an easy Halloween decorating option for folks who want to make a big impact without putting in too much work.
4) Organic insulation
Having been derived from pioneers, using leaf debris as insulation is truly old-school. However, some folks still use bagged leaves for additional heating in basements, cellars, and mobile homes. To be clear, this is not a suitable replacement for central heating. It is also flammable and can attract rodents, neither of which are ideal for homeowners. Okay, maybe don’t do this one.
We hope that these tips help you to make the most out of the season and get your garden ready for winter!