Home & Garden

Water-wise tip: Autumn leaves for mulch

Bright autumn leaves are mulch in waiting.
Bright autumn leaves are mulch in waiting. Bigstock

This is part of a new weekly feature in Home & Garden, highlighting ways residents can save water.

▪  Turn your fallen leaves into mulch.

Instead of trashing fallen leaves, use them as mulch in the garden. It will help the soil retain more moisture and feed your plants essential nutrients as the leaves slowly break down.

For greater effectiveness, chop your leaves with the help of your lawn mower. Run over a shallow pile of leaves a few times to cut them up into small pieces, which will break down sooner. Like compost, it’s very slow-release fertilizer.

Or, leave the leaves whole; they just take longer to break down. Spread them out in a layer 2 to 3 inches deep. Avoid mounding mulch around trunks or base stems; that can cause crown rot. Give those trunks and stems a few inches of breathing room.

Leaves of evergreens, such as pine needles, are great for acid-loving plants such as azaleas.

For more tips, visit www.bewatersmart.info.

Debbie Arrington