Don’t bag those leaves — use them

As the leaves continue to make their way to our lawns and gardens, I see an awful lot of people working really hard to rake them into neat piles in order to get rid of them.

I know that for some of you, this might be the only way to dispose of the leaves. However, if you have the space and the time and are interested, you can make leaf mold, as suggested by reader and “Composter Nut” Kathy Potter.

Kathy sent me an email sharing her technique for getting rid of leaves. She “recycles” and uses them back in the garden. We call this black gold.

It’s a great way to get rid of the fall leaves and to help your plants in the garden. Thanks for the great suggestion Kathy.

Following is what she sent in regards to what she does with her leaves:

“Fall is here again and I thought I’d pass along something fun I started doing about three years ago. Instead of getting rid of my leaves, I make leaf mold instead.

“Your local hardware store sells something called hardware cloth. You need some cut about 9 feet long. The roll is usually 3 feet tall, so you’ll end up with a piece 3-by-9 feet.

“Unroll it in your backyard to make a circle and use some twisties to attach the ends. Put it in some out-of-the-way spot in your yard (it’ll sit there for one year so make sure you’re comfortable with where it is).

“Rake all your leaves and put them in this tidy little cage. It’s okay to push them down (they don’t need oxygen to break down).

“I usually fill it up with leaves, put an old piece of chicken wire on top and some nice bricks to weight it down. I put the extra bags of leaves in large black bags right by this.

“Wait about two weeks for the elements to tamp your leaves down even more, and dump the rest of your bagged leaves right in. In about a year or so, kick over the cage (it’s weightless and easy to push over. Under all those leaves you’ll find a nice funnel of leaf mold.

“Great stuff. I put it everywhere. You’ll still have leaves left that need to break down so set your cage up again and put leaves in bottom for next fall when you do the whole thing again.”

Kathy goes on to say that you don’t have to mulch or grind them up but if you do, it will break these leaves down faster.

Leaf mold is a wonderful addition to any flower bed and pretty easy to create. Thanks again, Kathy.

Pamela Corle-Bennett is the state master gardener volunteer coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. Contact her by email at

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