clean-up and recycle fall leaves

Easy Ways To Clean-Up and Recycle Fall Leaves

Fall is here and we are loving the cooler weather and changing colors.

But with fall comes the reason that this season got its name in the first place; because all the leaves do exactly that. While we can appreciate the beautiful colors of the leaves as they change with the season, they eventually end up cluttering your yard, creating more work for you to clean up. We’ve put together tips on how to make the clean-up process a breeze and ideas on how to recycle those fall leaves, so they don’t just end up in a landfill.

Easy Clean-Up

Mow them

Instead of reaching for the rake, make the clean-up process quicker with a mower. A mulching mower works best, but you can also just raise your mower’s blade to the highest setting. The mower bag will collect the leaves after shredding them up, making more room in the bag so the leaves can be tightly compacted. Any additional leaf-bits not picked up by the mower will sink into your grass, creating a natural mulch for your lawn.

Use a tarp

If you decide to clean up the leaves with a rake or leaf blower, lay down a tarp and collect the leaves on top of it. Then when it’s time to bag them, use the tarp as a funnel to get the leaves in quickly! You can also invest in a large, tarp-like bag to load your leaves and transport to a disposal area, then store the bag for next season.


A leaf blower in reverse-mode or a yard vacuum sucks up leaves quickly, especially in hard-to-rake areas such as flower beds, stones or shrubs. A yard vac works the same way as a mower, mincing up the leaves to pack them tightly in the bag.

Uses for the Leaves

Make Mulch

Leaves are a great, free source of nutrients for your garden. The easiest way to recycle fallen leaves is to just leave them there. Use a mulching mower or a lawnmower without a bag to shred the leaves and spread them out over your lawn. It’s important that the leaves are broken down and shredded, as whole leaves can form an impenetrable, moldy mat that will suffocate nearby plants.

Shredded leaves are also a great source of carbon for a compost pile. Layer them with nitrogen-rich waste such as leaf clippings and then sprinkle them on top of kitchen scraps to make a nutrient-dense compost base.

Preserve Leaves for Décor

The beautiful, colored leaves can be preserved for a multitude of craft and décor projects. The easiest way to do this is to preserve them with glycerin. Mix two parts water and one part glycerin in a bowl and then pour the mixture over leaves laid out in a baking pan. Make sure the leaves are fully submerged and put a second pan on top to weigh them down. Let the leaves soak for 3-4 days, then remove them and blot dry with a towel. The finished result is soft and supple leaves that retain color, perfect for crafts, arrangements, and wreaths!

Insulate Plants

Leaves provide excellent insulation to sensitive plants that need help through a cold winter. Layer them on top of ground plants to create a blanket of insulation with a wire frame to prevent the leaves from blowing away. You can use this same technique for whole plants above the ground, such as flower bushes, by building a wire cage around the plant and stuffing it with leaves. In the spring, start gradually removing leaves to allow the soil to warm.

Cleaning up leaves don’t have to be a dreaded chore. If you don’t want to do the hard work, let the specialists at Front Range Arborists do the clean-up and recycle your fall leaves! Our Turf Care program will keep your lawn looking fresh throughout the year.