The trees and shrubs are shedding more and more leaves in autumn – in some gardens so much that garden owners simply dispose of the leaves with household waste due to lack of space. But it’s actually a shame for that. So you can continue to use it sensibly.
Autumn is a very beautiful time of year: the trees glow in bright colors and you can enjoy the last warm days of the year in the garden – if only there weren’t all the leaves that fall massively after the first cold nights and many gardeners seem to be there to despair. But don’t worry: there are enough possibilities to use the leaves sensibly even in small gardens.
Leaf mulch is good for plants
The leaves are suitable as mulch for all plants that have their natural habitat in the forest or at the edge of the forest. They bloom with a layer of mulch from leaves, because this corresponds to your living conditions at the natural site. The leaves decompose in the course of the new gardening season and enrich the soil with humus. By the way: useful plants such as raspberries or strawberries also come from the forest and react positively to a foliage cover in the root area.
Foliage storage made of wire mesh
Are the beds already covered with leaves and are all the compost bins full? Then just buy a few meters of wire mesh from the roll at the hardware store and connect the beginning and end with a piece of flower wire. This creates spacious wire baskets that can be set up in the garden and serve as leaf storage with little effort. Due to the weight and the slow rotting, the filling slowly sags, so that soon after the first filling there is space for new leaves.
Tips for quick decomposition
You can accelerate the rotting in the leaf hopper by mixing the leaves with some grass clippings and chopped material. The fresh grasses contain a lot of nitrogen, so that the microorganisms can reproduce well and decompose the nutrient-poor autumn leaves more quickly. If the lawn season is already over, just use the compost accelerator. The chopped material ensures good ventilation of the mixture, which also promotes composting.
Soil improvement with Lauberde
Depending on the temperature, it takes around a year for the autumn leaves to become leafy compost in the collection container. Although the humus contains hardly any nutrients, it is ideal for soil improvement for all plants that need a loose, humus-rich subsoil. You can also use the leaf compost to pile up your bed roses to protect them from frost damage in winter.
Oak leaves for rhododendrons
While the leaves of hornbeam and linden rot very quickly, this takes a long time for oak leaves due to its high tannic acid content. It is best to use the fresh leaves as mulch in the rhododendron bed. The foliage releases acid when it rots and thus lowers the pH of the soil – ideal for rhododendrons and other garden plants that cannot tolerate high pH values.
Autumn leaves as winter protection
Are there camellias or other frost-sensitive plants in your garden? Then kill two birds with one stone with the mobile leaf basket: Simply put it over the bushes and then fill it up with dry oak leaves or other leaves. This way, the sensitive plants get excellent winter protection. In spring, however, you must remove the leaf basket in good time.
Winter quarters for hedgehogs
Hedgehogs start building their winter quarters in mid-October and then go into well-deserved hibernation from mid-November as soon as the ground begins to freeze. They are particularly happy about hiding places in your garden, such as a pile of leaves: in autumn also think of winter quarters for hedgehogs.
How to treat which leaves?
Not every leaf is equally suitable for composting. The following list gives you an overview of which leaves you should use and how:
Maple, birch, beech, alder, ash, hornbeam, linden, elm:
Can be easily composted and used as mulch material.
Hazelnut, chestnut, fruit trees, grapevines:
Only compost or use as mulch material when the leaves are healthy. Otherwise put in the organic bin or burn.
Poplar, plane tree:
Because the leaves stick together easily, the leaves should be mixed with other types of leaves before they are composted or used as mulch material.
Should be composted separately and used as mulch material, because due to the low pH value it is particularly suitable for moor bed plants.
Rotted very slowly.
The leaves contain a substance called juglon, which inhibits the germination and growth of other plants. Therefore it is best not to compost, but to put it in the organic bin or burn it.