Each fall, many Americans rake up their leaves (a seemingly never-ending chore), bag them up, and leave them at the curb to be sent to the landfill. This ignores that leaves are an important part of the ecosystem and a great resource to utilize in your yard! They can act as mulch, provide nutrients and homes for insects, and are a free source of compost material.

Keep reading for three ways you can use fallen leaves this season.

Use as mulch

Put leaves around the base of your plants or in garden beds over the winter. The leaves offer a hospitable habitat for beneficial insects and their decomposition will add organic matter back to your soil.

In the springtime, you can chop the leaves and dig them into the soil in your planting areas where they will further decompose.

Return to your lawn

Leaves are full of nutrients for your lawn and the worms that live in it. Pass over the leaves with your lawnmower to chop them up (remove bag from mower) and let nature do its thing!

This will not lead to lawn thatch! Just be sure that you can still see some grass between the chopped leaves. If you can’t see the lawn at all beneath your leaves, you should remove some of them to not smother your lawn.

Collect and compost

If you do want to remove the leaves from your lawn, consider composting them instead of putting them in the trash. If you don’t compost yourself, see if a neighbor can use them! Many backyard composters lack brown material and can save them to use in their compost piles year round.

There also may be municipal compost programs, especially for yard waste, in your area—do a quick search to see what options are available to you!
If you’re in Denver, the county provides a LeafDrop program for both leaves and pumpkins to be composted.