We recycle our old clothes, cardboard boxes and even food scraps into the compost heap, but what about leaves? Each year, leaves fall from deciduous trees as they shed their foliage for winter, and these leaves are often raked up and put in the garden waste bin (if you’re lucky enough to have one) or your household waste bin ready to be taken to landfill.
However, there’s a way to recycle leaves in order to create a more circular gardening system. This kind of system aims to take what already exists in your garden and recycle it for the benefit of the local environment – and your wallet! I have put together a list of ways to recycle leaves below, but first, here’s the perfect tool for the job…
The Clear ‘N’ Collect rake
Regular rakes are often difficult to use. They take a lot of arm strength and stamina (especially if you have a large garden), and can even pull up parts of your lawn or beds that you don’t want to be disturbed!
The Clear ‘N’ Collect rake – as seen on Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch – is a multi-purpose garden tool that can rake up leaves, hedge clippings and grass with little effort. It features two handles attached to large capacity scoops, which collect together all your garden debris, so that you don’t have to bend down and scoop it up yourself!
After collecting up your leaves and whatnot, you can just empty the scoops over a wheelbarrow or bin. It’s so simple, and very little effort! What’s more, as opposed to the traditional method of raking where you might collect your leaves into piles before picking them up, with Clear ‘N’ Collect, you can clear your garden debris as you go. The tool sweeps along the ground in one fluid motion, meaning you’ll do less raking overall!
This rake isn’t just restricted to your lawn. You can even use it on gravel and concrete so that you can keep your driveway and patio areas clean and tidy.
Replace your regular rake with the Clear ‘N’ Collect to keep your outdoor space looking fresh!
Want to know how to use your rake to recycle the fallen leaves in your garden? Read on…
Add to your compost pile
You should have a balanced compost pile – that means optimum amounts of green and brown waste. Leaves are green waste, so as long as they’re not diseased, they can be safely added to your compost heap to make it more fertile!
Whether you’ve got a compost bin or heap, it’s simple to collect up your leaves and pop them into your compost. Do this throughout the autumn to top your compost up – but remember to add in brown waste, such as cardboard, to keep it balanced!
Create your own mulch
Save your money on store-bought mulch! You can actually use leaves to spread across your beds and borders in order to keep them happy and healthy at this time of year. Mulching with natural matter in autumn and spring helps the soil in your borders to keep in heat and moisture, stop weeds from growing, and fertilise your plants.
Once you have collected your leaves, use a leaf shredder to shred them into smaller pieces. Alternatively, place the leaves into a garden bin, then use a strimmer in the bin like a kitchen blender. Then, lay the shredded leaves over the soil in your beds and borders.
Leafmould makes a fantastic soil conditioner, and is formed when leaves decay. To create leafmould, collect your leaves and shred them as you would when creating mulch. Then, place your leaves in a bin liner, pierce it with a garden fork several times to create air holes, tie it at the top and leave it to rest. The leafmould will be ready in around two years. Alternatively, collect your leaves into a leaf heap in a sheltered part of your garden, and keep building up the heap as time goes on.
Planting bulbs soon? Layer shredded leaves and topsoil with a layer of bulbs, then another layer of shredded leaves and topsoil, and water well. Your bulb bed should be about eight to 10” deep – so you may need quite a few leaves for this!
Create leaf art
Select the best leaves from your garden and use them to create leaf art! Place the leaves in an artistic arrangement on a piece of card, then glue them in place and frame your work. You could even draw on or paint the leaves! Alternatively, use them as part of a beautiful scrapbook creation to give dimension to your photo memories.
Thinking about recycling the leaves in your garden? Get the Clear ‘N’ Collect rake for £24.99 now to make the job much easier!
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.