As the shorter days of winter approach, the leaves on trees will turn from green to fall colors of gold, bronze, red, orange, brown, yellow and crimson.
In a few short weeks, deciduous trees and shrubs in landscapes and natural areas will have lost all of their leaves and prepared themselves to face the rigors of a cold winter. Here are some ways to put those leaves to good use:
• Don’t throw leaves away. Bagging fallen leaves and sending them to the landfill doesn’t make sense for long-term environmental sustainability. It does make sense to remove the leaves so they don’t limit the growth of turfgrass species by obstructing light or creating conditions that favor disease.
• Ignore leaves that fall in areas that are used to grow shrubs or trees so they can benefit the soil. Trees and shrubs evolve in environments where no one removes leaves every autumn.
• Compost leaves. To compost leaves, gather them and make piles that consist of a layer of leaves about 4 inches thick followed by a 1- to 2-inch layer of soil supplemented with organic kitchen wastes. Add another 4 inches of leaves followed by another layer of soil and kitchen waste and repeat. Make sure the pile is well watered and moist.
Source: College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences