Keep your leaves

Using leaves as mulch or fertilizer in your yard is less work for you, better for the environment, and saves you money.

Mulch leaves into your lawn and garden

Thick layers of whole leaves can kill grass, but mulched leaves break down quickly. They add nutrients to the soil and help keep weeds from coming back in the spring. Use your lawnmower to shred leaves into small pieces and they will disappear right into the ground.

  • Set your mower height to 7.5 cm (3 inches) with the front wheels higher than the back wheels
  • Mow over leaves when they’re slightly damp, after a light dew
  • Keep mowing about once a week until they finish falling
  • Use them as mulch in your garden, under trees and shrubs

Protect plants over winter

When the ground is frozen, pile leaves around your plants to insulate the roots over winter. Snow may come and go, and leaves can help protect your plants during periods of freezing and thawing. Remove the leaves in the spring and add them to your composter or mulch them into your lawn.

Keep hardy vegetables growing through winter

In the fall, use a heavy layer of shredded leaves to cover hardy vegetables like turnips, carrots, leeks, kale or beets. You can extend the growing season and maybe even harvest these vegetables all winter.

Use leaves in your backyard composter

Keep leaves near your composter to mix with your food scraps. An even mix of nitrogen-rich food scraps (green) and carbon-rich materials like leaves (brown) prevents odours and pests, and helps your composter work quickly.

Learn more about backyard composting 

Compost leaves for fertilizer

Choose a spot protected from wind or make a chicken wire cage for your leaves. In just a year, your pile will break down a lot. Dig to the bottom of the pile for all-natural fertilizer.

Create a new garden bed

Rake a thick layer of leaves to a spot where you want to start a new garden the next spring. Let them sit over the winter and then plant your new garden over them in the spring.

More ways to manage fall yard waste

guelph.ca/leaves