How to Recycle Leaves

The autumn season often brings many changes ' going back to school, drops in temperatures and even different vegetable sprouting from the ground. But one of the biggest and most noticeable changes year after year is leaves turning colorful shades of red and orange, eventually making their way to the ground, scattered across your yard.

But instead of immediately throwing leaves away after you remove them from your yard, consider recycling them for different uses and projects. Here are a few ways you can recycle leaves ' all of which save room in the trash can and keep your yard in its best shape.

Garden Compost

Leaves make a great addition to homemade compost ' whether you're composting with a bin or yard pile. Combined with kitchen scraps, grass clippings and other compostable materials, leaves decompose and create nutrient-rich compost for your garden. If you find yourself with more compost than you can use, share the extras with neighbors and friends.

Winter Mulch

As winter approaches, you can eliminate the expense and hassle of purchasing mulch by recycling leaves into your own DIY mulch. You can use freshly fallen leaves, dried leaves or a combination of both. Simply rake the leaves into a pile and redistribute them over garden plants or trees that need extra winter protection. The natural leaf mulch will decompose over time so there is no need to remove it after the winter season is over.

Craft Projects

Most craft projects will not use the large amount of leaves accumulated throughout the fall. However, drying and preserving a few to use in craft projects is a great way to recycle leaves and provides free, natural material for your projects. To preserve leaves for use as art, clean and dry them before laying flat between two sheets of wax paper. Stack them in between two heavy blocks of wood until they dry, or use a homemade botanical press.

You can make holiday yard decorations using large amounts of leaves and heavy duty trash bags. Fill the bags with leaves and shape them into pumpkins, scarecrows, snowmen and other yard decorations. Paint the bags and place them throughout your yard.

Yard Waste Service

If you have no desire to keep the recycled leaves around for personal use, many counties have yard waste disposal services available for a small fee or allow residents to drop them off free of charge. Contact your local waste management service provider for more information.