Fall’s treasure

Fallen leaves can be quite useful in your garden

Rob Zimmer, Leader Columnist

Photo by Rob Zimmer Pine needles make as great a garden tool as fall leaves, great as a natural mulch to keep down weeds and retain moisture.

Photo by Rob Zimmer There are many wonderful uses for fall leaves in the yard and garden. Rather than simply raking them away, give some of these a try.

The leaves are tumbling from the glorious trees as autumn’s winds rush through our backyards and forests. As the colors begin to fade and the trees grow bare, put those treasured fallen beauties to good use in the home and garden.

There are many great ways to use fallen leaves in the yard and garden. Take advantage of these autumn treasures and discover new ways to enjoy the season.

Here are some great ways to use fall leaves that you might not have thought of.

Fun for children

Obviously, fall is a great time to be outdoors having fun in the backyard. Leaf piles, leaf houses and other backyard fun activities using fallen leaves create hours and hours of fun for children.

Feed your lawn

Use a mulching lawnmower setting to create a valuable, nutritious mulch and a natural fertilizer for your lawn that will last for months. Rather than rake away those precious leaves, mulch them into tiny pieces and let Mother Nature do the rest of the work. You’ll enjoy a thick, lush lawn for years to come.

Create compost

If you don’t already have one, consider creating a backyard compost pile to put those leaves to good use along with kitchen scraps, other yard waste and recyclables. In just a few months, you will already be enjoying rich, precious garden gold.


Research continues to show that the majority of us these days do not get enough exercise or spend enough time outdoors. Get a good dose of both by spending a few hours raking up those beautiful fall treasures.

Grow potatoes and more!

Save some of those leaves and put them to use next spring as a soilless growing medium for root crops such as potatoes, onions, carrots and radishes. Stuff laundry baskets, garbage pails, chicken wire cages and other containers full of leaves. In spring, simply place seed potatoes or onions several inches into the leaves and watch them grow.

For seeds, add an inch or two of quality topsoil and compost for starting the seeds. Then let them grow into the decomposing leaves.

Growing these crops in leaves also makes for easier harvest come fall.

Winter protection

Use leaves to create a nice, loose mulch around trees and shrubs that need a little bit of extra protection. Create a chicken wire or mesh cage around the plant and fill with leaves to provide insulation and protection.

Gifts and crafts

There are many wonderful ways to use leaves from your trees in fun and creative garden gifts and crafts. A simple internet search will yield hundreds of possibilities. Some of my favorites are using leaves to do nature printing, as well as leaf rubbings, leaf painting and more.

Find Rob Zimmer online at www.robzimmeroutdoors.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RobZimmerOutdoors. Listen to Outdoors with Rob Zimmer from 4-5 p.m. Friday and 7-8 a.m. Saturday on WHBY.