It is time to take a whole new perspective on leaves! They are a valuable resource that should not be let go to waste. Leaves are free fertilizer and protection for your plants.
By The Rye Garden Club Conservation Committee
It is time to take a whole new perspective on leaves! They are a valuable resource that should not be let go to waste. Leaves are free fertilizer and protection for your plants. Whether you care for your yard yourself or hire a team to help you, saving your leaves and using them on your property will save you time and money and will help the City of Rye save on transportation and dumping costs.
Make Leaf Compost
Shred your fallen leaves using a lawn mower or leaf shredder. If you or your landscaper has a mulching mower, simply mow and blow the leaves back on the grass and leave them there for the winter to protect and fertilize your lawn.
From your beds and hard surfaces, or if you have a large amount of leaves on your lawn, shred leaves with a leaf shredder or mower, then rake them into a pile and leave them to decompose naturally. It will take about a year for the leaves to fully break down into compost. Shredded leaves can be reapplied to garden beds to insulate hibernating plants through the winter. The leaves will break down in place and leach good nutrients into the soil, feeding your plants and protecting them from harsh winter conditions.
If you prefer not to shred your leaves, rake them whole into a pile or put them into a bin or plastic bags with a few holes. When left whole, leaves take three years to break down. Your leaf compost is ready to use when it is soft, crumbly, and hardly recognizable as leaves.
Benefits of Leaf Compost
Once it is broken down, leaf compost can be mixed with yard waste and kitchen scraps to make compost. Or use it alone instead of peat moss to pot seedlings, bulbs, or plants. You can also add it as is to your beds, and it will:
Make the soil lighter and easier to work with.
Increase the water retention capability of garden soil, which will help plants stay moist, save on watering costs, and reduce run-off.
Aid soil’s ability to hold onto nutrients.
Promote the life of good bugs that plants need.
Take the place of expensive and chemical (non-organic) fertilizers.
Cool plant roots in summer.
Insulate plants in winter.