A thick layer of leaves on the lawn, says the Virginia Cooperative Extension, blocks sunlight and increases the chance of lawn disease from slow decay of the leaves and fungus. Although removal of leaves from the yard landscape is necessary, to just throw the leaves away in the garbage is the waste of a natural fertilizer for the lawn and garden. Removing leaves from the yard, or incorporating their flesh into it, is better than black garbage bags full of the treasure.
Run a mulching mower over leaves to chop them into finer pieces. Chopped leaves decompose quicker than whole ones and are incorporated directly into the lawn turf, says the Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Attach a grass-catching bag to the back of your mower to collect the leaves chopped by the mower for later mulching, suggests the University of Texas A & M. Shredded leaves applied in a 3- to 6-inch layer to the base of trees and shrubs protect them from the winter cold and retain moisture. Using 2 to 3 inches of mulch in a flower bed or garden does the same.
Add shredded leaves to soil to improve drainage and water retention, recommends the University of Texas A & M. Tilling 6 to 8 inches of leaf into a clay soil will improve its quality.
Compost leaves in a compost pile, using the compost for brown material. Leaves decompose easily in a compost pile. Texas A & M also suggests composting in a plastic bag by collecting leaves and placing them into black plastic garbage bags. Fill it with 2 shovels of dirt, 2 shovels of manure, 1/2 cup of nitrogen fertilizer, and the rest of the bag with leaves. Add water to moisten the leaves and punch 10 to 15 holes in the bag. Turn it twice adding water each time over the course of six to eight weeks until the leaves are composted.