Fallen Foliage

November’s entrance indicates many events: Thanksgiving, the official start of winter and, as a result, a lawn covered with colorful, fallen leaves left behind by autumn.

The fate of foliage was once left to nothing more than a rake or a leaf-blower. For those with children, a pile of fallen leaves can provide hours of active entertainment. But once the raking and jumping has concluded, banish loose leaves to the curbside no more. Instead, put them to use with these five creative uses for fallen foliage.

  1. Build a Scarecrow. Here’s a use for fallen leaves that can recycle other things you may be looking to clear out, like ill-fitting clothes or torn pantyhose. When building a scarecrow’s head (which can also be made from an old pillowcase), legs and arms, use dry leaves as stuffing. You can also use them to accessorize by tearing the leaves into thin strips to create your scarecrow’s “hair.”

  2. Create Compost or Fertilizer. Using foliage to create compost is by far one of the easiest and eco-friendliest ways to remove it from a lawn. It’s also a great way to start a compost pile (if you don’t already have one). Begin by setting aside a small, fenced-in area of your yard (3’ x 3’ is the standard minimum) and place fallen leaves within it. Feel free to add other biodegradable items that might otherwise be tossed away, like old vegetables, weeds or flowers that will eventually decompose into great fertilizer for your organic garden. Be patient, though: Foliage can take up to two years to decompose.

  3. Make Art. We all remember preschool days of running a crayon over a piece of paper and a big leaf. To some, that method of art will never get old, especially when it’s a great way to recycle both foliage and printer paper. It also can create quite beautiful drawings when creatively paired with charcoal or uniquely colored pencils.

  4. Create Bird Feed. Birds instinctively build their nests with any naturally discarded items they can find, including fallen leaves. But, unbeknownst to many, foliage is also a source of sustenance for our avian friends. Some breeds use leaves to store food like stray seeds, while others know to find worms and insects on them. In addition to your compost pile, consider creating a “bird pile” of foliage. Also, fear not if rain falls. When leaves collect water, birds often use that as a drinking source.

  5. Decorate your Home for the Holidays. If you’ve ever snored through a holiday wreath-making party, you know that some people go great lengths to find the wackiest decorations possible. No need to rush to the art supply store, as fallen leaves can create beautiful additions to a holiday wreath. The bursts of color can be used to make exquisite harvest centerpieces, as well, when paired with such fall vegetables as pumpkins and gourds. And once the season has passed, these decorations can head straight to your compost pile, instead of a landfill.

Keep in touch with Amanda on Twitter: @Amanda_ZW

image: sponselli