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How Reusing Fall Leaves Can Help Improve Your Garden

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When properly managed, fall leaves can be a great addition to mulch and compost, among other uses in the garden.

As the number of fall leaves begin to dwindle on trees, they’ve found a new home on our lawns. But before you go and rake them into the street, there might be a better way to put those leaves to use.

"When we rake it to the curb, it always rains, the leaves go in the storm sewer, then the city has to clean out the storm sewer and then they haul away the leaves. We’re spending all this money when we could be using them on our property as fertilizer, organic matter, habitat for pollinators, toads and other amphibians," says Melinda Myers. She's a gardening expert and author of many books on the topic, including Midwest Gardener's Handbook and Small Space Gardening.

Myers says dead leaves can be great for insulating the ground and creating habitat for beneficial animals like toads, which eat a lot of bad pests. Leaves can also be used for mulching and can be added to compost bins for later use in the yard.

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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as a producer for Lake Effect. Before then, she was a director and producer for Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm Chicago Public Radio.
Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine.