For most of the country, the annual autumn leaf barrage has begun. In my city, we rake our leaves to the curb and they are picked up by a big vacuum truck and taken to the city's composting facilities. I'm happy that we have this system, instead of having our leaves taken to a landfill, and I'm very happy we don't have to bother bagging them up--now that is a pain!
But you won't see any leaves raked to my curb, despite the fact that I have five large shade trees and a very healthy apple tree on my lot. Every leaf that falls finds a home somewhere in my garden, whether it is added to my compost pile, added to my perennial beds as mulch, or even hoarded until next spring. My article about using your autumn leaves gives you five good options for using this unappreciated fall bounty in your garden.
One of the options I mention in my article is to simply mow over them and let them break down in your lawn. We've been told for so long that we need to clean up all those leaves, but I've always thought that was just silly. When leaves fall in the forest do we say, "oh my---we better clean those leaves up!" Of course not. They fall, break down, and result in a rich humus layer on the forest floor that keeps the forests thriving. We should want the same for our yards, and the lawn is one place that definitely benefits from the nutrients that fall leaves provide. In fact, a current study by Michigan State University not only showed that soil was less compacted and more nutrient-rich in lawns where fall leaves had simply been mowed over and left to break down. In addition, they found that in areas where maple leaves were mowed and left to decompose, there were fewer dandelions in the turf. Compounds in the maple leaves prevented dandelion leaves from germinating. I'll take that over shooting them with weed killer any day of the week!
So, before you bag up those leaves, consider using them in your garden. If nothing else, mow them into your lawn. Why give away something that is so beneficial to your lawn and garden?