Thursday, 7 November 2013

Leaf It To Me!

Autumn's here hurrah! I love Autumn as I get to put on my cosy coat and winter boots and kick around all the leaves in the garden! There are lots of pretty colours in our garden just now whether it's the leaves on the trees or plants such as Sedum coming into flower. Plus Autumn means exciting times like Hallowe'en and Bonfire Night. Now, as I mentioned, the leaves are falling thick and fast now so I thought I would share with you five things you can do with leaves in the garden as well as some pictures of common leaves for you to try and spot when you are out an about. I also have a very wonderful art project you can do with leaves...

Here are some leaves I found in the garden

1. Compost 
Autumn leaves, especially those that have been chopped or shredded (use a shredder or your lawn mower to do this) are brilliant additions to the compost pile. Leaves are a great source of "brown," high-carbon material for the compost.  Like with any item you add to the compost heap, it's important to create layers and not have too much of one thing. Alternate the "brown" leaves with some "green" waste such as grass clippings, weeds, veg/fruit waste etc. Soon this will all break down and you will have some wonderful compost to add to your garden in the Spring. 
Oak Leaf
2. Leaf Mould
Leaf mould may sound yucky but it's a useful addition to the garden. Create a corner where you can pile up all your collected leaves. Then leave them (excuse the pun) for a year and you will have a wonderful addition to your garden. This can be used to bulk out and improve your compost but won't have enough nutrients to be a complete replacement to your compost. 

Ash leaf
3. Mulch
Once shredded you can use the leaves to mulch your garden. Spread a layer (approx 5-7cm thick) of the shredded leaves around your borders, taking care to avoid contact with trunks/stems of plants. The mulch will help suppress weeds as well as keep moisture in the soil. As the leaves break down they will also add nutrients to the garden.

Beech leaf
4. Mow them
If you don't want to bother with raking your leaves up, tackle the ones on the lawn by mowing them. Set the mower to its highest setting then run the mower over them, leaving the mown leaves on the lawn's surface so that they breakdown and add nutrients to the lawn over winter. Do this every week until the leaves have all gone.

Horse Chestnut Leaf
5. Bag 'Em Up
It's useful to keep a couple of bags of the leaves you have collected and store them in your shed or garage over winter. Come Spring when you are adding more material to your compost heap you may struggle to find "brown" waste to alternate your layers. To save you having to rip up newspaper or shred cardboard you can just add a few handfuls of leaves at a time. 

Rowan leaf
So there you go, even the common leaf can be super useful to the gardener and not just a nuisance to tidy. Another use I have for leaves is this wonderful art project:

Leaf Glitter Picture

You will need:
  • Card
  • Glue
  • Leaves
How to make:

1. Go on a hunt round the garden for some leaves. Look for lovely, dry, crispy leaves as they make the best glitter!
Leaf hunting!
2. Now you get to scrunch the leaves into tiny pieces which is great fun! If the leaves aren't dry enough this might not work and you will have to leave them in the basket overnight to dry more.

Scrunching is fun
3. Using the glue draw a shape on the card. The shape can be whatever you want. I chose to draw a tree.

Glue your shape onto the card
4. Sprinkle the leaf "glitter" onto the card.

Add the "glitter". I used some brown
paper to make a tree trunk too.
5. Gently push the leaves down onto the glue so they are all stuck on.

Pat down your "glitter" so it is all stuck
6. Let your picture dry for a bit then shake off the excess leaves (you can keep them and use them in another picture if you want.) There you have it - a Leaf Glitter Picture!

The finished Leaf Glitter Picture
I'd love to see the pictures you make. Please email photographs of them in to me.

I need to "leave" you for now but I'll be back soon! (Hee hee)

Hugs & kisses, 

Thank you to Kiwicrate for the inspiration for this craft project

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