Fall is one of Colorado’s most beautiful seasons, but the mess of leaves left behind can cause some frustration for homeowners who aren’t sure what to do with them. Using leaves in your garden and around your yard can be beneficial to your plants and soil (did you know that in a forest, trees absorb more than half of their nutrients from fallen leaves?), and raking and bagging leaves can be useful around your outbuildings!

Make Mulch

Mulch is a great way to protect your plants and soil from harsh Colorado winter conditions. Adding a layer of leaves to plants and shrubs will add protection from cold temperatures, and keep the soil insulated and moist until spring.

An easy way to turn your leaves into mulch is to shred the leaves while they’re still dry. You can use a lawnmower or a tool that’s created specifically for this process.

Add Leaves to Compost

When it comes to building great soil, compost is the ultimate answer. Adding compost to your soil, garden or plants helps build soil structure, feed plants and aid in moisture retention.

To turn your leftover leaves into this powerful gardening tool you’ll need to follow a few simple steps. First, determine if your leaves are a good variety for compost. For example, maple, birch, ash, cherry, cottonwood and fruit trees are excellent options for compost. Oak leaves have a high acidity and can negatively impact your soil’s PH level. Once you’ve determined if your leaves are a good option for composting, you’ll want to shred the leaves. This helps them decompose as fast as possible. Next you’ll add the shredded leaves to your compost pile – the more of a variety of organic material your pile has, the quicker this process will go.

Leave the Leaves for Wildlife

A leaf layer on your yard can be beneficial for different wildlife, including birds, chipmunks, moth caterpillars and other insects. Birds, for example, rely on moths and caterpillars to feed their babies during nesting season. If you enjoy birds around your yard, consider leaving a leaf layer to support the insects they will come to your yard to eat.

Turn Dry Leaves into Insulation

A thick blanket of leaves is the perfect way to prevent cold in the winter. To create Mother Nature’s insulation, collect as many leaves as possible, dry them out and bag them up. You can pack leaves tightly together in cold areas around your home, such as a garden shed or outdoor work space, to act as insulation until spring.

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