Leaves decaying on hard surfaces make their way into area streams and rivers robbing the water of oxygen and releasing nitrogen which leads to algae blooms, fish kills and “dead” zones in the Chesapeake Bay. Leaves can be, however, very beneficial when used around your yard.
Shrub Mulch. Chop leaves finely and spread 3-4 inch layer on top of your shrub beds or save for future uses in a wire bin where they will continue to decompose. Add a nitrogen source (grass clippings next spring) to produce an excellent organic fertilizer or soil amendment.
Lawn Fertilizer. Mowing leaves into the lawn improves the condition of grass. The decomposed leaves release the same nutrients in fertilizer typically applied in the fall. Set your mower to a 4″ height and mow weekly.
Tree Protection. Guard trees from string trimmers and mowers by creating mulched beds around trunks using shredded leaves. After a few rainstorms, the leaves will flatten becoming a bronze color mulch that inhibits weed growth but allows perennials to emerge in the spring.
If you can’t mulch or compost them, bag your leaves – preferably in biodegradable bags. K&B True Value has many helpful tools and items to help you manage your leaves this fall and help protect the Bay.