Leaves accumulate throughout the lawn during the fall. Leaves can be a nuisance, but they are also a good source of organic matter for the garden. Leaves supply nitrogen to soil and improve soil quality, texture and aeration when applied properly. According to the Texas A&M University Extension, leaves provide 50 to 80 percent of the nutrients requires. Leaves can be composted in a compost pile or, easier, added directly to the soil of the garden.
Shred your leaves using a mulching mower with a bag attachment to collect the leaves for use in the garden.
Add a 6-to-8-inch layer of leaves to the surface of your garden soil during the fall. Leaves will improve the aeration and drainage of clay soils and will improve water absorption and the nutrient-holding capacity of sandy soils.
Till the leaves to a depth of 4 to 6 inches in the fall, and leave the soil bumpy to prevent erosion during the winter. The leaves will decompose before the spring, improving the soil structure and adding nutrients to the soil.