Look at any forest and it’s clear that Mother Nature has intended for leaves to be mulch. The only problem with using whole leaves is they tend to form a dense, soggy mat when they get wet, which can smother your lawn.
The solution is, for example, to run your lawnmower on its highest setting and mow over them. It will collect them and cut them into small pieces so they can break down more easily.
This mix of grass cuttings and mulched leaves stays nice and fluffy and decomposes more quickly than straight leaves.
A compost pile will break down more efficiently when it is made of a ratio of 1:3 ratio of green, nitrogen-rich ingredients to brown carbon-rich ingredients.
Leaves are full of carbon, so they make a very good brown element for your compost. Make sure they are moist but not wet; mixed with green material and turned once a month to allow oxygen to circulate.
They will eventually break down into a dense black compost that is very nutrients-rich for your plants, flowers and lawn. A good idea is collect and keep the leaves in the autumn time to have them on hand in the summer when the garden is producing lots of green waste to be composted.
Chicken and hens love nothing more than scratching around in a nice thick layer of leaves. If you collect bags of leaves and store them in a dry spot over the winter, every couple of weeks you could spread a layer in the chickens' run. The leaves will slowly decompose as they mix with the chicken manure.
Leaf Mould is just leaves that have broken down into a dark, crumbly compost-like material. It couldn't be easier to make: just pile some shredded leaves in a corner of your garden and let them sit there until they decompose.
The end product is dark in appearance and when mixed into the soil, leaf mould adds nutrients and keeps the soil light, while also helping it retain moisture.
Create Beneficial Insect Habitat
Leaves can act as a refuge for beneficial insects, birds, hedgehogs and other wildlife during the winter. Rake leaves underneath hedges or place piles of them in an out of the way corner of your garden. Because leaves create a thick blanket when spread over the ground, they can be used to insulate plants from harsh winter conditions. When the weather starts to get cold, simply sweep the leaves under the shrubs to provide them with some added insulation during colder temperatures. Keep in mind that when the weather begins to warm you will need to rake away these leaves for the soil to properly heat up. If you keep the leaves dry enough, then you can even use them to guard against those random spring freezes that often threaten less mature plants.
Leaves as Fireplace Fuel
If you happen to own a wood-burning fireplace, leaves and twigs are perfect for getting a fire started. So, fill a bag with dry leaves and store it under cover, using a handful each time you light up your fireplace. The leaves will function as kindling to get the fire going faster and they'll lend a delicious aroma to your home.