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Uses for Fall leaves and debris

Updated: Apr 30

Fallen autumn leaves smell good. It's fun to watch them fall off the trees after they've turned colors. Easily their best use is raking them into a pile and jumping into them.

Fall leaves can also be considered free organic fertilizer right in your yard! And, though there is labor involved - you need to rake or blow them up or they’ll smother your lawn and create other issues.

Many communities in Maryland make compost from the leaves residents drop off at dumps and transfer stations; the larger towns and cities hold leaf- and yard-waste collections!

How To Use Leaf Debris

Mow over the leaves a few times

The chopped leaves will break down quickly in spring and add valuable organic matter and mineral nutrients to the lawn. The trick is to mow frequently, before over six inches of leaves fall. Another trick is to remove the bagging attachment with the first pass. Mow the leaf piles and allow them to fall onto the turf, then make a second pass with the bagging attachment in place. The chopped leaves will now be sucked into the bag.

Spread them as protective mulch for the landscape

Chopped leaves can be spread around trees, shrubs and gardens to help conserve moisture and control weed growth. Leaves make a good insulating cover for overwintering tender perennials or root crops stored in the ground.

Use them as a weed barrier for spring plantings

Chopped or left whole, leaves make excellent mulch for vegetable crops, blueberries (and other berries), and ornamental shrubs. They not only suppress weeds and help retain soil moisture, but because they contain no weed seeds themselves, they won’t encourage the spread of new weeds.

Make compost for a valuable soil amendment

Carbon-rich leaves pair well with summer’s nitrogen-rich grass clippings. Layer three or four inches of old leaves with an inch of fresh grass clippings or other green leafy yard waste.

Just for fun

Rake up or blow those leaves into a pile for your children, dogs (or hey, adults too!) to jump into, just like the good ol' days.

If you are in the Maryland area and considering hiring a local business to handle your lawn and landscaping needs, including fall clean-up, consider chatting with Rooted In Nature by email at or call at 443-846-0199. We are happy to assist you!

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