With the days drawing in there’s no way of avoiding it: autumn is on its way. The long warm evenings will soon be a thing of the past and the leaves will be turning, cluttering up paths and lawns.
This, however, should be seen as a blessing rather than a nuisance.
Leaves from deciduous trees are rich in carbon. Use them to feed your garden with earthworms and beneficial microbes, lighten any heavy soils and help retain moisture in sandy loams.
They can be used to balance out the nitrogen materials, eg grass clippings, kitchen and vege-garden scraps, in your compost bin.
Rake them up when they are turning brown and layer them through the compost heap. Best results are achieved with two thirds carbon (brown materials) to one third nitrogen.
Before adding them to the bin, whizz over the leaves with the lawnmower, along with other sources of brown matter you have to hand, such as vine clippings, shrub prunings, straw and dried garden waste.
No more room in the compost heap? Grab a black polythene garden-waste or rubbish bag, fill it with leaves, punch a few holes around the sides of the bag and top it off with a little water. Tie the neck of the bag and pop it out of sight, but where it will get a little winter sun, until next spring/summer when you’ll have the sweetest bag of compost you could wish for.
Or run over the leaves where they lie on the lawn with the lawnmower. They’ll break down over winter, feed nutrients into the soil, shading it too which should result in fewer lawn weeds.
Allow the leaves to compost themselves under trees and shrubs, all the while feeding them and acting as mulch. Between each 30cm of leaves add a layer of soil. The pile should be damp, but beware of it becoming waterlogged. Avoid that by covering with plastic sheeting.
Shredded leaves can also be used as organic mulch for flower and vegetable gardens, but do avoid the stems of the plants. The leaves will insulate tender plants from the cold, all the while adding nutrients to the soil as they break down.