Fall leaves can be used as mulch, compost, and so much more. ATTRIBUTION: Photo by David Goehring (Flickr)

Colorful foliage is one of the best parts of fall. However, autumn leaves can create a number of maintenance issues if left untouched. Loose leaves can clog up your gutters, create a slipping hazard, and attract pests to your yard. By learning simple and cost-effective leaf disposal strategies, you can enjoy fall leaves on the trees and not on your lawn.

  • Chop them up with a lawnmower. Instead of raking up fall leaves and hauling them away in lawn bags, go over them with a mower. The shredded leaves will decompose and act as a natural fertilizer for your yard.
  • Add them to a compost pile. Leaves contain a number of nutrients that can enrich soil. Adding them to a compost pile can benefit your garden while diminishing the strain on landfills.
  • Create a natural mulch. Autumn leaves act as a natural mulch that can be used for a wide range of purposes in the garden. Spread out a thick layer to suppress pesky weeds or retain moisture in the soil.
  • Make leaf mold. While leaf mold is nothing more than partially decomposed leaves, the crumbly brown material offers numerous advantages. Leaf mold is good at retaining water, which can help reduce evaporation. Over time, the use of leaf mold can significantly improve the quality of your soil.
  • Use them as insulation. Without a barrier to block harsh wind and cold, more tender plants may not make it through the winter. Enclose plants with wire fencing and fill the container with fall leaves to provide protection.
  • Store vegetables over the winter. If you have a root cellar, dry fall leaves can be used to store your veggies. Beets, carrots, parsnips, and other types of root vegetables are best layered and covered with dry leaves if you wish to keep them until early spring.
  • Build a scarecrow. Help keep pesky birds away from the goodies in your garden by building a scarecrow from fall leaves and other materials found around the home. Stuff dry leaves into some old clothes, then set the scarecrow on a pole in the garden. If the scarecrow doesn’t scare away the birds, you can always use it as a Halloween prop.
  • Create a refuge for “good” bugs. Autumn leaves double as a safe haven for beneficial insects like ladybugs, ground beetles, and green lacewings. To make an insect sanctuary, envelop some leaves and twigs between two sheets of chicken wire. If possible, place it in a safe area out of the elements.
  • DIY a fall centerpiece. With Thanksgiving not too far away, there’s no better time to create a centerpiece for your dinner table. Along with dried leaves, use acorns, nuts, berries, branches, and other natural elements from your backyard to create a stunning centerpiece.
  • Have some fun. If you have an abundance of fall leaves, look for ways to entertain your family. Dried autumn leaves are great for crafts and scrapbooking. Of course, you can always rake them up into a big pile and jump in them.