The majority of trees have shed their leaves in preparation for winter and are now drying out, but they still have many benefits to people and critters.
“One way is if you want rake leaves and if you compost, put them into a compost pile,” said Bill Graham, Missouri Department of Conservation metro media specialist. “If you can, according to neighborhood regulations, you can buy a compost bin and place a wire fence around to put leaves in.”
The leaves need minimal tending over the winter months and only must be turned every four to five weeks. You can add kitchen scraps to the compost, which will give soil more moisture.
“Oxygen provides and enhances the process of the composition,” Graham said. “So you need to get out there whether it’s for a fork or shovel and move them around a little
bit especially during dry periods.”
All leaves can be recycled and serve as a great fertilizer or mulch and provide warmth to plants.
“If people have flower gardens and the leaves have fallen, it doesn’t hurt to leave leaves on the ground and let them do the work,” Graham said.
A variety of insects such as caterpillars, bees,and flies find shelter in leaves and hibernate until spring months.
“Some people leave stems or leaves standing, flower stems and grass dams in those plant gardens,” Graham said. “So if you just let nature take its course we can provide protection for little critters.