Making Good Use of Fall Foliage

November 2021 Tree of the Month: Sugar Maple
December Tree of the Month: American Holly

By: Kate Bolkin

Colorful autumn leaves are a staple of the season and we are so fortunate to watch Queen City become an array of yellows, oranges, and reds.  But with the change of temperature comes time for deciduous trees to shed their summer coat all over our lawns, parks, streets, and sidewalks.  Fallen leaves have properties that are beneficial to soil structure and plant health, so why is it so common to bag them up in plastic to be taken to a landfill?  Here are a few easy ways to make use of your fall leaves for an eco-friendly fall.

1. Free Mulch

Skip the trip to the garden store and use your tree’s self-made mulch to prepare your tree or garden for winter!  All you need to do is rake up the leaves and shape the pile into a ring around the tree (as you would with hardwood mulch or pine needles).  You can also lay them flat around your garden beds.  Leaves (like other types of organic mulch) help retain moisture, add nutrients, hold onto warmth, and improve structure in the soil.  Not to mention, many types of native wildlife like bees, butterflies, spiders, and more use fallen leaves as a warm winter home.

2. Compost Them

Don’t like the look of leaves scattered in your yard?  You can still make use of of their natural benefits by doing some DIY composting. The materials are minimal and the process is simple. If you do it right, your compost will be ready to feed your landscaping by spring! Find out more about turning your leaves into compost here.

 3. Make a Scarecrow (or another fun art project)

While transforming your leaves into mulch or compost is highly practical, you can also get some fun out of fall foliage too! Thanks to trees, we have free “stuffing” at our disposal.  Use your fallen leaves to stuff a decorative scarecrow to keep animals away or just for fun!  There are lots of other creative projects you can do with fall leaves, including making collages, lanterns, and stick-people.  Find your next art project here!

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