Clever Ways to Reuse Autumn Leaves
The transformation of leaves from green to golden is a visually stunning element of the change from summer to fall. While observing the process is something everyone can appreciate, raking up and bagging loads of leaves is not exactly the most exciting way to spend weekends. But there are many clever ways to reuse fall leaves that make them a helpful and fun tool – for both kids and adults.
Weekend warriors who enjoy gardening and landscaping can prepare this year’s fall leaves for use in the garden next spring, while children can utilize them for creative arts and crafts projects. Gather them with a leaf hauler, which can collect large batches of leaves, holds up to five times more than a wheelbarrow, and requires zero lifting. Then reuse them in one of these clever ways:
- Compost Them – Leaves are considered a great source of “brown”, high-carbon material for compost. Use a lawn mower, chipper, shredder, or a leaf vac to chop or shred your pile. Then alternate layers of shredded leaves with the regular green materials you would add to your compost pile. Green materials are typically vegetables and fruit scraps, weeds, grass clippings, and plants that you pull out to clean up the garden in the fall. Let these compost layers sit over winter, turning them occasionally, and by spring you’ll have a great source of nutrients for your garden.
- Mulch Them – Free and probably better than anything you could buy, place your shredded leaves in flower beds, vegetable gardens, under trees and shrubs, or in container gardens. Simply place 2-3 inches of leaves under the beds, keeping them from directly touching the stems and trunks of your plants. The mulch will help the soil retain their moisture and stay cool, plus over time the leaves will add nutrients to the soil as they break down resulting in lighter, fluffier soil.
- Recycle Them – If you don’t plan on using leaves for your own garden, ask your neighbors or local nursery if they would be interested in taking them off your hands. Some local county boards may even remove and compost the leaves at a municipal facility for community distribution.
Kids will love the various colors and patterns of leaves in the yard for these exciting crafts:
- Framed artwork – With adult supervision, youngsters can use clear plastic or glass to frame their leaves. They can explore and choose from different colors and natural textures. Once framed, parents can proudly display the artwork around the house.
- Create a Gallery Wall of Leaves – Parents with a sizeable section of empty wall can enlist the help of little ones to create a seasonal gallery wall. Either attach the leaves directly to the wall in a specific pattern, or use frames of different sizes and borders. Once the leaves have been framed, adults can hang them on the wall to create a bold grid display.
- Leaf Coasters – White bathroom tiles, fall leaves, and mod podge are the only materials needed to create beautiful fall coasters. Use them at home or give as gifts during the holidays. Simply have the kids stick the leaves to the tiles using mod podge and they’re done!
- Autumn Leaf Necklace – Younger kids will enjoy creating their very own necklace from materials they already have – strips of ribbon, rope/yarn, leaves, and other small pieces of accessories. They can even do batches of necklaces based on different themes and color schemes.