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5 Uses For Dead Leaves (Some Make Your Lawn Healthier!)

Two scarecrows with a background of fall foliage
Scarecrows are one good way to use the dead leaves in your yard!

Leaves are falling, so it's time to do something (or nothing!) with them.

When you survey your lawn or garden, you might see a sea of fallen leaves. Don't immediately run for the rake! You can take advantage of the leaves in several ways.

Five great uses for dead leaves:

  1. If the leaf layer is thin, then run the mower over that layer and leave it to feed to soil and plants.
  2. Got dandelions? If you have maple and oak trees whose leaves are now on your yard, leave a 1/2-inch layer of those leaves on the lawn to help reduce dandelions next spring.
  3. Got A LOT of leaves? Okay, now you can grab that rake (and gloves, because ... blisters). Rake the thicker layers of leaves into smaller piles, then make piles to jump in! After you've had some fall fun, pile the leaves in a corner somewhere to let rot into leaf mold compost to use on your garden next spring.
  4. Chop and gather leaves and use them in November and December to protect roses, hydrangeas and other tender plants from winter snows.
  5. We could all use some fun, so gather up some clothes you don't wear and stuff them full of leaves to make scarecrows and decorations for autumn and Halloween!
Q: What can I do to stop mice and voles from eating my tulip bulbs this fall? — June, in Williston

It’s true that mice, voles and even chipmunks love to eat tulip and crocus bulbs. You might just try to plant something they don’t like, for instance, alliums, daffodils, scillas, snowdrops or fritillaria. The critters just don’t like the smell or taste of these bulbs and will leave them be. You could also try to put crushed shells in the hole or pour some castor oil pellets in and the animals will also not like the smell or feel.

Lastly, you could try to create a cage, using hardware cloth. Purchase this special cloth and then fashion it into a cage, then put your bulbs inside and plant into the ground. The bulbs will be protected while they grow, and the critters won’t have access!

A thin grey line.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips?Send us a messageor get in touch by tweeting us @vprnet.

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Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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