Every year, leaves fall onto Texas lawns and are immediately raked, piled, bagged, and left on the curb for disposal. The problem with this long-standing practice is that leaf litter contains valuable nutrients that could support yards and landscaping throughout the winter months.
There are a variety of options for utilizing leaves to their full potential. The least labor-intensive option is to simply allow leaves to blanket the lawn, which conserves moisture and disseminates nutrients as they decompose. If a lawn only has a few small trees or a small amount of leaves, mowing with a mulching mower and leaving the clippings will effectively deliver nutrients to the soil below. For yards with larger amounts of leaves, add the bagging attachment to a lawn mower to collect the shredded leaves, which can then be strategically used as needed.
Leaf mulch can be spread around the base of trees and shrubs to moderate soil temperature, mitigate erosion, and inhibit weed growth. Leaf mulch also benefits gardens by improving soil quality. Mixing mulch into garden bed and landscape soil improves aeration and drainage. Incorporate extra leaves into a compost pile or system to create nutrient-packed compost for future use.
Leaves and shredded leaves are packed with nutrients that will decompose into soil if integrated properly. Given all of these benefits, it is a missed opportunity that so many bags of leaves are discarded in fall and winter. Leaves are great tools that will work for any yard if they are included as landscape resources.
Find out more about managing leaves at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/landscape/leaf-management-plan/