April 28, 2017

What to Do with Autumn Leaves

Before you bag those autumn leaves, do these things: +Leave the pile for children (or adults!) to play in. +Gather some leaves to preserve for decorations. +Compost your leaves or find a local organization that composts leaves.

Yellows, oranges, and reds of autumn leaves

Image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net

As autumn arrives, we often look out at those drifts of fallen leaves and reach for the rake and some big trash bags. But don’t bag those leaves! At least not right away.

If you have kids in the house, or even in the neighborhood who come to visit, be sure to let them have some play time in the pile. It wouldn’t hurt the adults to re-experience some simple joys like playing in the leaves or just lying in a leaf pile and taking in the world. (Make sure children don’t play in leaf piles that are in a drive or roadway where a driver might decide to take a joyful vehicular romp through the pile. Children have been seriously injured or killed when a driver didn’t see them hiding.)

Take some time to find a collection of pretty leaves of various colours. You can preserve these for fall decorations. You can press them between sheets of waxed paper or use clear Contac Paper. Use several to make placemats or cut them out individually to scatter on your table.

Here’s a video on making a wax paper collage with leaves:

For longer-lasting decorations, preseve the leaves in a glycerin solution. Place them in a shallow baking dish, cover with a solution of 1 part glycerin to 2 parts water. (Glycerin can often be found in the drug store, but if you have problems finding it there, check with craft stores and health food stores.) Weight the leaves down with a slightly smaller pan and let them soak for 2 to 3 days. Check them to see if they’re pliable. If they still feel dry, leave them to soak longer. Once they’ve absorbed the glycerin, remove them from the solution and pat dry.

Voila! Beautiful fall leaves that will last for many years.

You can even preserve full branches of fall leaves using the same solution. Here’s a video on how to do it:

Once you do decide to get rid of those piles of leaves, try composting them instead of setting them out for the trash collector. Chop them up with your mower and place them in your compost bin, pile, or even a black trash can with a few holes poked in it. If you don’t have the means or the interest for composting them yourself, check to see if there are businesses or organizations in your area who collect leaves for composting.

Beautiful fall leaves don’t have to be a chore. Take some time to enjoy and then turn all those lovely browns, golds, oranges, and reds into compost to make the earth a greener place.

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