5 Tips for autumn leaves

While trees and shrubs are slowly going into their winter break, hobby gardeners now have their hands full with getting the leaf carpet under control. How to properly dispose of the leaves and how to use them, we show you here at a glance.

Autumn leaves on the lawn

If autumn leaves are left on the lawn for too long, the grasses underneath will get too little oxygen and rot. Therefore, the rake should be used regularly

As beautiful as the fall colors are, sooner or later the leaves fall to the ground and make a lot of work for hobby gardeners and homeowners. Leaves must be painstakingly removed from lawns and paths, ponds and even gutters. But once you have swept it up, it is an ideal garden material. Provided that the leaves are not infested with fungus, they can be left under trees and bushes. There it provides a loose soil and suppresses weeds. Foliage serves as winter protection for more sensitive woody plants. The leaves have to be removed from the lawn and the paths.

1. Practical helpers for collecting leaves

While in summer the cooling canopy of trees was gratefully used to provide shade, in autumn it’s time to rake the leaves. A reliable helper on the lawn is the fan rake. For large areas you should always wear gloves – so you avoid painful blisters on the hands.

Handy in the field: the fan rake for raking leaves

Handy in the field: the fan rake (left). For the paved driveway, a snow shovel (right) is ideal

For winding corners, stairways and between pots, leaf blowers and vacuums are ideal. The latter sucks the leaves with its narrow tube into a catch bag. The leaves are chopped up a bit and decompose more easily. However, many find the noise of the leaf blowers annoying. In addition, they are controversial among environmentally conscious gardeners because they affect wildlife (hedgehogs and insects). On a paved or paved surface, the snow shovel has also proven its worth, thanks to its large shovel surface it can hold a lot of leaves.

Disposing of leaves in an environmentally friendly way: the best tips

2. Heavy fare for the compost

Mountains of foliage pile up in some gardens and should now go on the compost. While deciduous species such as hazelnut, lime and maple quickly decompose into valuable humus, there are also exceptions such as walnut (Juglans regia) and pedunculate oak (Quercus robur). Their fallen leaves decompose very slowly because of their high tannin content, which inhibits the decomposition process. Therefore, it should never be put purely on the compost. It is better to shred the leaves beforehand with a lawn mower or shredder and layer them in alternately with garden waste, mature compost and stone dust.

3. Indian summer: small decoration ideas for the house

In your own garden as well as on walks through the forest and in the park, you can find the ingredients for many different craft ideas now in autumn. Even with single, fresh leaves you can make atmospheric decorations and get in the mood for the colorful season in the house. The most beautiful leaf colors are provided by maple species, amber tree, copper rock pear, witch hazel, ginkgo and vinegar tree.

Door wreath made of autumn leaves

Table bouquet from autumn leaves

With a wreath of leaves on the front door will welcome your visitor in the most beautiful way (left). A colorful bouquet of leaves adorns each table (right)

For the door wreath, tie various foliage leaves, for example of ironwood tree (Parrotia) and cherry (Prunus) with green floral wire to form a wreath and decorate with ribbons. For the table bouquet, shape felt into a cuff, secure with a wreath of rose hips and foliage, and fill with maple leaves. Glass lanterns also look particularly atmospheric with the filigree leaves of a fan maple (Acer palmatum). To do this, simply place the foliage in the space between two glasses.

4. Valuable winter protection for plants and animals

Winter protection with autumn leaves

Fall foliage serves as winter protection for frost-sensitive plants

Tidy gardens with hardly a leaf of foliage in the beds look neat, but make it harder for plants and animals to survive the winter. Therefore, spread collected fallen leaves several centimeters thick under shrubs, hedges and in secluded corners of the garden so that small animals such as hedgehogs, mice and insects can use them as material to build a protected shelter for the coldest months of the year. Frost-sensitive plants such as magnificent candle (gaura), bush mallow (lavatera) and roses also benefit from thick foliage cover. The same goes for cold-sensitive potted plants such as perennials and ornamental grasses, which are well protected for the winter in a wooden box lined with bubble wrap, covered with straw and dry leaves.

5. Where to put the diseased foliage?

Chestnut leaf with leaf miner infestation

In the case of the leaf miner on chestnut, be sure to completely remove the autumn foliage, as the pupae overwinter there and infest new leaves in the spring

Horse chestnuts that already show conspicuous brown leaf spots in summer are most likely infested with the leaf miner moth. But how to properly dispose of these leaves in autumn? Infested leaves must not be put on the compost, because there the pest is offered an ideal overwintering opportunity. Instead, green waste should be collected in large bags that the local community recycling center will accept. Consistently removing diseased foliage will reduce infestations over time.

Video: Dieke’s gardening tips in November

The leaves are not the only thing to take care of in the fall: in our video we show you what is still to do in the garden in November.

Even in autumn there is still a lot to do in the garden. What work is important in November, explains garden editor Dieke van Dieken in this video
MSG/Camera+Editing: CreativeUnit/Fabian Heckle

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