From Lisa Alba, Advanced Inquiry Program graduate student and Community Engagement intern:
One of the best things about fall is the look and smell of fallen leaves. Brings back memories of raking them into piles and exploding through those piles as a child. Now, instead of raking those leaves and putting them in the yard waste container, use them yourself in your garden. Fallen leaves make great mulch, you can even save them until spring when the new growth needs some extra fertilizer.
Take a look around your yard and find all the places you can use leaves for winter mulch, then just rake the leaves over that area. If the leaves are too large, you can shred them a bit to promote faster decomposition. Leaving the larger leaves will help provide food and shelter for beneficial microbes, insects, and small critters for winter.
Here's more information and resources on using fallen leaves to put your garden to bed for the winter:
- Natural Lands Trust: http://www.natlands.org/who-we-are/news/a-green-way-to-put-your-garden-to-bed/
- About.com Organic Gardening Guide: http://organicgardening.about.com/od/organicgardenmaintenance/a/autumnleaves.htm
- Seattle PI: http://www.seattlepi.com/lifestyle/homegarden/article/Green-Gardening-Turn-fallen-leaves-into-garden-1286906.php