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Fallen winter leaves – top tips on what to do with them

Posted on: December 10th, 2018

As we head into winter, most of leaves have fallen from the trees. For some, it’s exciting to know that Christmas is just around the corner. But for anyone who has garden, dead leaves all over lawns and flowerbeds are a pain.

The automatic reaction is to sweep them up and get rid of them, but before you do so, you may want to consider the benefits these dead winter leaves can have on your garden. They may be unsightly but if used correctly, can become a fantastic natural fertiliser… and at no monetary cost to you.

Reduce the volume

A large pile of leaves will take a significant amount of time to decompose but if you shred the leaves first, thereby reducing the volume, your garden will enjoy all the benefits of rotting leaves whilst eradicating the risk of heavy leaves smothering the ground cover, preventing rainwater from accessing plants and affecting growth.

What to do with fallen leaves

Here are Prince Tree Surgery’s top tips on how to deal with dead winter leaves easily and organically:

Make your own compost: Wondering what to do with that huge pile of dead leaves? If you have more rotten leaves than you know what to do with, why not create your own compost pile ready for the spring? Sweep all leaves into a large pile in an area of the garden you don’t tend to use much. Water down the leaves, either with a hose or by giving the pile access to rainwater. The water will generate fungi and microbes that will decompose the leaves and turn them into leaf mould. By the time spring arrives, your compost will be ready to be used on your garden’s flowerbeds and trees – and it won’t cost you a penny.

Lawns: If you have a mulching mower, rake small and low piles of leaves on your lawn before mowing over them two to three times. You can then leave the shredded leaves on the lawn over winter as they will become a source of nutrition.

Flowerbeds: If rotting leaves are chopped and turned into mulch, they will slowly turn into compost, which will enrich your flowerbeds. Make sure the mulch layer is less than three inches thick.

Decking, patios and footpaths: It is essential that any dead leaves are removed from hard surfaces if they are regularly walked on – wet, rotting leaves can turn paths, patios, decking and tiles into a skating rink. Wooden surfaces can also rot if leaves aren’t regularly cleared.

The vegetable patch: It is agreed by those in the know that leaves can be left on any vegetable patches you may have for the duration of the winter. Once spring arrives, experts state that you should turn the leaves under, as this speeds up decomposition and helps to release nutrients into the soil.


We hope you found our article ‘Fallen winter leaves – top tips on what to do with them’ inspiring. There are plenty of online resources regarding making your own homemade compost but if you need any further advice or information, please feel free to ‘Ask Matt’.

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