What to Do With Leaves
Perhaps one reason so few people garden during the fall is that they're saving their energy for the big leaf cleanup. It's a laborious job that"s guaranteed to cause a few blisters and possibly even a neighborhood contest to see who can wait the longest to rake their lawn.

"Unless you've got a heavy-duty blower, the easiest way to collect leaves is to rake them onto a big plastic tarp," says Roger. "Then you can drag them wherever they need to go." Once they"re gathered, don"t throw them away — leaves can be a cheap source of nutrients for your plants if you turn them into compost, or can serve as a simple mulch if you chop them up. If your town distributes biodegradable leaf-collection bags, it probably has a municipal composting program; the town will compost your leaves for you and offer a small amount of free compost come spring. Or you can compost the leaves yourself. Start by placing them inside a container (a simple cylinder made from wire fencing works fine). Turn the mixture regularly — at least once every few weeks — and in less than a year, the compost will be ready to feed the landscape.

For instant gratification, you can turn the leaves into mulch instead. Break up the leaves a bit with a mulching lawn mower, mower attachment, or leaf grinder before spreading them — whole leaves will stick together and smother the lawn. Not only is this faster than composting, but it"ll save you money otherwise spent on commercially available mulches like shredded pine bark or cedar chips. Sprinkle the mulch on top of the lawn or put down a 2 to 3-inch layer in planting beds to protect them from the cold.

If neither option is appealing, Roger suggests an even lazier alternative. "At the end of the season, cut your lawn as short as you can without scalping it. That way, the leaves will have nothing to stick to, and they"ll blow into your neighbor"s yard," he says with a laugh.
Ask TOH users about Yard & Garden

Contribute to This Story Below