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Turning Leaves Into Gold

(Last Updated On: February 27, 2022)

Turning Leaves Into Gold

Turning your fallen leaves into gold, well black gold that is, isn’t as hard as you may think.

Fall has really settled in and the trees are shedding all those beautifully colored leaves. What was so beautiful to see a couple of weeks ago, has now become a nightmare of clean up work in the yard.

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Some think that the leaves should be left alone and decompose naturally right where they lay. That may be a good notion if you live in the woods. Most of us live in residential areas and it is expected, and sometimes required, to rake up the fallen leaves.

Some municipalities have leaf drives to pick up bagged leaves and others may have drop off locations for your leaves. There are still a few locations that still allow burning your leaves.

Since I have a small backyard plant nursery here at my home, I compost my leaves and use that compost in my potting soil.

Fun first

The first step is to rake up the fallen leaves. When I was young, we used to rake them into as large of a pile as possible. Then it was time to jump and run through the pile. I don’t think kids do that nowadays, there are no screens attached.

Compost pile time

Gathering up these piles and taking the leaves to your compost pile can be a lot of work. Something that makes that job a little easier is a Debis Tote. I use mine to carry my leaves outback. Wheelbarrows, yard carts, and even a tarp on the ground can help lighten the load.

Grinding is better

Just adding whole leaves to your pile will work, but shredding or grinding them into tiny pieces will be better. The whole leaves can layer together and become a solid mat that takes a long time to break down. Grinding actually reduces the pile by about 1/3. I use a leaf grinder for mine but a blower/vac will also do the trick. Some use their lawnmower.

Mix in your household food scraps and other yard waste and in several months you will have a nutrient-rich soil additive, black gold as we call it. Add this to the garden or your planting beds for an extra boost for your plants.

Earthworms, pillbugs, centipedes, and other creepy crawlies help to break down all those goodies to that get that black gold. Micro-organisms are things we can’t see but are very important to the process as well.

No compost pile??

Got a garden? Take these leaves and grind them into tiny pieces. Spread a thick layer of them across the top of your garden plot. The leaves will break down over winter and add nutrients right to your soil where you want it most. Just til or work what remains into the soil before you plant.


Shredded leaves also work well as an insulator for plants during the cold winter months ahead. Add several inches of the leaves around your most tender plants to help keep them nice and comfy over winter.

Just don’t pile them up tight against the stems of the plants. That can do more bad than good.

When Spring finally arrives, spread out the leaves and let them finish decomposing in the bed. They will add some of that black gold without you doing any fertilizing.

Magic for soil

Did you know you can change your icky clay soil to nice rich soil? How about making your sandy soil drainage slow down and have more nutrients? This is possible with some of that nice black gold you just made from your leaves.

It doesn’t happen overnight, but with repeated applications worked into your soil over several years, you can change that nasty clay into beautiful workable soil. Your sandy soil can have the ability to hold some moisture so the plants will thrive.

It’s all FREE

The best part of all this is it is all FREE! Nature has given you the beauty and now the magic. Just a little work on your part turns all those FREE leaves into wonderful black gold for your soil.

Maybe you can even talk your neighbors into giving you their leaves.

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