Stacy Ling
Fall Clean-Up and Making Leaf Mold Compost

Fall Clean-Up and How to Make Leaf Mold

November 17, 2020 4 Comments

(This post was written in collaboration with Ryobi but all thoughts and opinions are my own.) While fall clean-up can be a chore, it’s a great benefit to the beds when we collect the leaves, make leaf mold compost and add it to the gardens.

Part of preparing the garden for winter includes fall clean-up.

Fall clean up typically includes pruning, cleaning up dead trees, shrubs and plants, overseeding, aerating and mowing the lawn, dividing plants, storing outdoor furniture and decor, and cleaning up fallen leaves.

Achieving Fall Color in the Garden with Foliage

To me, cleaning up the leaves on the lawn is SO much easier then picking them up around my garden plants.

My flower gardens are pretty extensive, so it is a lot of work to get the leaves out of all the beds.

Especially when they keep falling!

Fall Clean-Up and Making Leaf Mold Compost

But it is really important to get those leaves out because allowing them to stay can smother plants and promote pest and disease problems.

And nobody wants that!

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Fall Clean-Up and Making Leaf Mold

Fall Clean-Up with the Ryobi Vacattack

Ok the Ryobi Vacattack may just be my favorite power tool for fall clean up.

I love that I can pick up leaves around my plants and not feel like I’m crushing or damaging them.

Fall Clean-Up

The Ryobi Vacattack is pretty easy to maneuver, sucks up the leaves really well and collects them in this attached oversized bag.

Fall Clean-Up

But the best part?

It mulches those leaves down in the bag that I can later dump into a pile to make leaf mold.

Fall Clean-Up

What is Leaf Mold?

When leaves decompose over time that creates leaf mold. Composted leaves are a great soil amendment that is super easy to make and significantly improves garden soil quality.

Fall Clean-Up

Leaf Mold vs. Compost

Compost is made when organic material like food scraps decompose over time. The decomposition becomes what we gardener’s call “gold” because it is high in nutrients that enriches overall soil quality and promotes happy, healthy plants.

Achieving Fall Color in the Garden with Foliage

When we add both both leaf mold and compost to the garden, they improve overall plant health and bloom yield, while helping plants build immunity to disease.

I use both to feed my perennials, shrubs and trees versus using fertilizer.

To me, feeding plants starts with really good soil quality as opposed to pumping them up with artificial nutrition.

Limelight Hydrangeas are the best fall flowers

Why Is Leaf Mold Good?

Unlike compost, leaf mold does not offer much in the way of soil nutrition. But rather increases water retention and improves overall soil structure.

Since leaf mold is considered to be a soil conditioner, it helps plant roots stay cooler during hot, dry weather. Here in New Jersey, that’s a huge benefit because the summer heat can be brutal. So leaf mold helps plants stay hydrated.

Fall Clean-Up

How to Use Leaf Mold

After decomposition, dig leaf mold into beds or apply as a mulch. It can be used in garden beds, but can also be added to planters to help keep them from drying out.

Regardless of how you use leaf mold, it’s so easy to make that it is a no-brainer when doing fall clean-up.

All you really need is a little bit of space to make it.

Fall Clean-Up

The Ryobi Vacattack’s bag is easy to detach to open and dump mulched leaves.

How to Make Leaf Mold Compost

There are two ways to make leaf mold. You can either make it in a pile or plastic garbage bags. Depending on the space you have, one method might be preferable over the other.

The Pile Method

Pile leaves in a section of the yard or a bin that is about 3’x3′. Dampen the leaf pile thoroughly, mix it up, then let it sit and do it’s magic. Keep an eye on the pile though and add water when it dries out. Decomposition can take anywhere from two to three years depending on the size of the leaves in the pile.

The Plastic Garbage Bag Method

Instead of making a pile, collect leaves in a plastic garbage bag. Similar to the pile method, moisten the leaves in the bag, seal it and cut a few holes to create airflow. Then let it sit, but check it periodically to insure it stays moist. If leaves are dry, add more water.

Fall Clean-Up

I even used the Ryobi Vacattack on our deck after we finished putting away all of the outdoor furniture and area rugs. It was so much easier using the Ryobi Vacattack here than blowing them off the deck and then having to clean the leaves up again from the ground.

The Benefit of Using the Ryobi Vacattack During Fall Clean-Up to Make Leaf Mold

With the Ryobi Vacattack’s mulching capability, the leaves will break down much quicker than if they were left fully intact.

Since the Ryobi Vacattack mulches leaves while doing fall clean up, you save time not having to do this in two separate steps.

And who wants to do something in two steps when you can do it all in one?

Cause the reality is, if I wasn’t using the Ryobi Vacattack, I would skip the mulching step altogether, pile leaves and just wait it out.

So the leaves would take a lot longer to decompose.

For me, using the Ryobi Vacattack for fall clean-up is a huge benefit because I will be able to make leaf mold that much faster.

And we all want things to be done faster. Amirite?

Garden Shed with the best fall garden flowers

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How to Make Leaf Mold

How to Make Leaf Mold For Your Garden

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Stacy Ling

Stacy Ling is a master gardener who loves home decor and creating beautiful spaces. She provides easy-to-follow, easy-to-do garden, home decor, lifestyle & DIY inspo.

4 Comments

  1. Reply

    Kim | Shiplap and Shells

    November 17, 2020

    Great post Stacy. This looks like an amazing tool for the garden! Wish I would have known about it before I did all that work in my yard. Hopefully next year!

    • Reply

      Stacy Ling

      November 17, 2020

      Thank you! It is pretty awesome – I love that it can get around the base of plants easily like roses so you can clean them out really easily! xo

  2. Reply

    Rachel Harper

    November 17, 2020

    Stacy,
    What great information. I’m learning so much from you!
    Rachel

    • Reply

      Stacy Ling

      November 17, 2020

      I am so happy to hear that! Thank you!!xoxo

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