Don’t hate on fallen leaves — put them to good use

Published 7:09 am Monday, October 30, 2017

Fall leaves are falling and if you have even one or two large trees, it can seem like the leaves on the ground are never-ending.

I have several trees in my yard and the leaves are already beginning to pile up. The trees still have lots of leaves left to drop, however, so I know I’ll still have a lot more leaves to deal with.

Before you rake up your leaves and put them in a plastic garbage bags to be taken to the landfill this year, consider these eco-friendly alternatives.

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Leaving leaves in clumps on your yard will kill your grass — I am definitely not suggesting this. But there are ways to protect your grass and be eco-friendly.

I really like to leave my leaves on the ground because it’s a good habitat for insects and other animals and can help them survive the winter. Leaves can help improve the biodiversity of your yard.

I know some people don’t want to think about insects and animals in their yards. But your yard is a part of the natural world and local habitat. It’s a good thing to have insects and animals on your yard — that means your yard is helping make the world a better place. It’s all a part of a healthy ecosystem. I wouldn’t leave leaves matted down or in big piles, but a few small leaves will be fine and won’t harm your yard.

Another option is to mow over your leaves. This is a great option, because I think it’s easier than raking and you are putting important nutrients from the leaves back into your soil. All you have to do is mow over your leaves until the pieces are about dime-sized. Then, those pieces of leaves will fall down between the blades of grass and get broken down by worms and bugs, naturally composting and enriching your soil.

If you have a compost bin, you can also compost your fall leaves, turning them into nutrient rich soil for the spring.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has lots of great ideas for your leaves. If you have some tender perennials or root vegetables, you can put the leaves over them as a protective barrier from harsh winter weather. You can also keep them for the spring and use them when you plant to help suppress weeds and keep the soil moist. Leaves don’t bring any seeds with them, so they won’t introduce weeds to your plantings, according to the almanac.

You can also make fall crafts and decorations with fallen leaves. Make sure there aren’t any bugs on them first, but the possibilities are endless — and if you need some inspiration, you can always use Pinterest.

This year, I’d like to see fewer leaf blowers and fewer trash bags filled with leaves heading to the landfill, and more leaves being put to good practical uses. Leaves are a natural part of the world and it’s a shame we’re removing so many of them and using so much fossil fuel to do it. We have such a great resource that basically falls from the sky — let’s put it to use.

If you have any good ideas for what to do with your leaves, or any stories about the leaves in your yard, email me at

Amanda’s Animal Fact of the Week

Worms don’t have lungs, but they take in oxygen through their skin. That’s why if you pick up a worm, they often feel slimy. Their skin has to stay moist for oxygen to pass through it.

About Amanda Wheeler

Amanda Wheeler is the children and teen services librarian at the Lincoln County Public Library. She has a master's in zoology education from the University of Miami and has taught as an educator at the Cincinnati Zoo.

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