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What should you do with dead leaves on your lawn?

  • Jardin botanique
English

Dead leaves are a valuable fertilizer. However, it’s important not to leave them on your lawn just as they fell. As soon as the trees start to lose their leaves in the fall, use your lawn mower to shred them into small pieces. As they decompose, they will enrich your soil, a technique known as “leaf cycling”.

Don’t wait for your leaves to pile up. Be sure to run your lawn mower over the dead leaves a couple of times throughout the fall season. It’s also much easier to shred leaves when they are dry.

When the leaves have been cut up, you should still be able to see the blades of grass between them. If you can’t, the layer of leaves is too thick. If that’s the case, use the bag on your mower to collect some of the leaves as you shred them.

Using dead leaves as mulch or compost

You can use the excess shredded leaves as mulch in your flowerbeds or around the base of your trees and shrubs. They also make very desirable compost. Keep a few bags on hand for year-round use as a source of carbon-rich “brown” materials to mix with nitrogen-rich “green” materials like fruit and vegetable scraps.

While unshredded dead leaves can also be used as mulch or compost, you should pay special attention when using large leaves, like those of Norway maples. They tend to clump together and form an impermeable layer. If used whole, they should not be applied too thickly.

As a precaution, you can collect and dispose of diseased or pest-infested leaves. However, municipal composting services usually accept them because the high temperatures reached during large-scale composting should eliminate any pathogens and pests.

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