By: Dean Gunderson
This time of year there are fallen leaves everywhere, sometimes literally bags of them. Although many people consider leaves a nuisance to get rid of, if you are a gardener you should see them as an opportunity to improve your garden for free! Fall leaves are very high in carbon and so have several uses in the garden.
Leaves make a fantastic mulch in the garden, especially if they have been chopped up by a mulcher or lawnmower as they are less likely to blow away. Like any mulch they help to encourage beneficial soil life, suppress weeds, and maintain soil moisture. More so than other mulches though leaves are great at encouraging beneficial soil fungal growth which many garden soils are deficient in.
If you have more than you need as mulch they are also great to have on hand to add to your compost pile when you need more browns. They can also be piled up on their own and after a year will break down into a special type of highly fungal compost called leaf mold.