Collecting Autumn Leaves

Collecting Autumn Leaves

The leaves will start to fall very shortly and these are a valuable resource. Prepare for them by building a leaf mould cage. Very simple to do, you just drive four stakes into the ground and staple chicken netting around to make the cage. Pile in the leaves and leave them alone for a year. You will find the pile reduces by two thirds at least, so keep filling the bin as more leaves fall. If you have one of those marvellous garden vacuum mulchers that suck up leaves and chop them, you will find the leaves rot down much more quickly.

Using leaves and leafmould

Newly fallen leaves
  • Winter cover for bare soil; may have to be removed in spring for sowing and planting
  • Mulch for informal paths
  • Make into leafmould
'Young' leafmould 1 or 2 years old, depending on tree species. Leaves beginning to break up; easily crumbled in hand.
  • Mulch around shrubs, herbaceous, trees, vegetables
  • Dig in as soil improver for sowing and planting
  • Autumn top dressing for lawns
  • Winter cover for bare soil
Well rotted leafmould 2 years old in most cases. Dark brown crumbly material, with no real trace of original leaves visible.
  • Use as for 'young' leafmould above
  • Seed sowing mix - Use leafmould on its own, or mixed with equal parts sharp sand and garden compost
  • Potting compost - Mix equal parts well rotted leafmould, sharp sand, loam and garden compost

Quick tip for leaves on lawns

Run the mower over leaves on the lawn with the grass box off. The shredded leaves will soon disappear into the lawn. Or run the mower over leaves on the lawn with the grass box on. Add the chopped up mown leaves and grass to a leafmould heap. They will be quicker to rot than whole leaves.

Leaves and wildlife

Don't disturb drifts of autumn leaves under hedges and other out of the way areas. They may be used as hibernating sites by hedgehogs and other creatures.