DEAD leaves can leave an unsightly mess – but according to an expert, there are ways to use them in your garden.
As much as we love autumn, the colder months also come with a less welcome guest – piles of dead leaves that you're not entirely sure where to put.
But fortunately, one gardening pro has revealed how you can make the most out of them, without having to fill up your green waste bin.
Chatting to The Express, Graham Barrett, at beanbags.co.uk, said that gardeners can use these for a wide range of purposes, such as protecting root vegetables and DIY mulch.
“Dead leaves can be a pain to deal with, but they're also an excellent resource for gardeners when used correctly,'' he explained.
“The first thing to remember is to never bag dead leaves.
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''The main reason for this is that they will start to rot inside the bag and create an unpleasant smell.
''Bagging also makes it more difficult to use them as mulch in your garden, so you should always spread them out on your lawn or garden rather than bagging them up.
“It’s also worth knowing the best time to collect leaves; this is when they’ve been raked up into piles and allowed to dry out a bit.
''Just make sure they're not too wet when you collect them — otherwise, they won't break down very well in the compost pile.
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“If you live in an area where leaf-blowers are used on public streets, find out if you can get your blower and use it in your garden instead of bagging up leaves for pickup.
''You'll save yourself the trouble of bagging and carrying all those bags outside, plus you'll get rid of more leaves at once (and reduce your carbon footprint).”
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Improve lawn health
Graham said mowing over dead leaves can actually "improve the health of lawns" while also making plants "more robust".
To do this, gardeners need to mow over dead leaves each week.
The blades will chop up the leaves and distribute them over the lawn as mulch – and the mulch will help to tackle problems such as moss growth.
Add them to compost
According to the gardening pro, dead leaves can also be added to compost, which will help soil thrive in the spring.
To make a compost pile, simply pile up the leaves in the corner of the garden and keep adding to it as the time goes by.
The garden waste will begin to break down into rich soil which can be used to fertilise plants.
Allow the compost to sit all winter long, turning it occasionally- this will allow air to circulate.
If needed and the pile starts to look a bit dry, add water.
By spring, the compost will be ready to mix into garden soil.
Make leaf mould
Not only is lead mould easier to make than compost, it can also benefit vegetable and flower patches in your garden.
Similarly to compost, you will need to rake the leaves into a big pile in the corner of your garden.
After a year or so, the leaves should have broken down into a dark, sweet-smelling, soil conditioner which is high in calcium and magnesium.
Use them as mulch
Sharing his expertise, the guru noted that dead leaves in mulch can also be used to stop the spread of new weeds and can even help retain moisture during dry weather.
The dead leaves will need to be shredded before – this can be done using a lawn mower on dry, dead leaves.
Insulate garden sheds
Although it may sound surprising, but according to Graham, dead leaves can be used as insulation around sheds or other building structures.
For this, pile them up inside the structure and then cover them with a layer of plastic sheets.
The plastic, he explained, will keep the moisture locked in whilst also protecting the leaves from being blown away on windy days.
Protect root vegetables in autumn
A heap of dead leaves can be used to insulate root vegetables stored in the ground, for example, carrots, kale and leeks.
Cover the area with dead leaves and they should harvest throughout autumn and winter period.
Create home decor
Use autumn and dead leaves to your advantage by turning them into a unique and beautiful decorative element in the home.
For instance, you can place long strands of dead leaves from hanging baskets – this easy DIY decor will create a stunning autumnal display.
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Create a wall print
For those wanting to create something more elaborate, dry, dead leaves can be pressed between two sheets of paper, creating a botanical print that could last forever.
For best results, opt for pretty leaves, such as those from oak and beech trees.
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