Don't bag up your fallen leaves and send them to the landfill. Dump them into a wire bin instead and let them decompose. This DIY bin is 3' tall and 4' in diameter. According to author Michelle Balz, it can hold about as many leaves as you'd stuff into nine paper bags. Once the leaves settle, you'll have more room to add more. The resulting compost is called leaf mold, and while it's not as nutrient-rich as traditional compost, it's still a valuable amendment for improving your soil and helping retain moisture.
Portable and reasonably priced, an electric leaf shredder transforms fall’s abundant leaves into a nice mulch or easily composted material. You’ll make quick work of leaves with a shredder like this one, which offers a 16:1 shredding ratio, condensing 16 traditional yard waste bags of leaves into one.
A long-lasting organic mulch option is pine bark or shredded bark, according to experts at The Morton Arboretum in Illinois. You can purchase bags of small or large chips. Other types of organic mulch are grass clippings, as well as animal manure (mixed with a coarse-textured material). Composted leaf litter will work, but it may increase weeds if not thoroughly composted.
The four-lined plant bug attacks perennials, creating 1/16-inch square dead patches in leaves as they feed. These bugs create more of a cosmetic problem that plants often outgrow, but when numbers are high, the damage can lead to browned, misshapen and dying leaves, which you might mistake for disease. Four-lined plant bugs emerge about the time that forsythia leaves unfold. They’re shy and crafty hiders, so you’ll likely see the damage long before you spot one of them. The best way to control these bugs is twofold. First, in midsummer, when the insects disappear, cut back plants that have been attacked, snipping below the damage. This should remove any eggs that have been laid inside stems. Pruning like this delays flowering on perennials, but the plants will branch and become bushy, which means more flowers. Second, in fall, clean up all stems and leaf litter in the bed. Take care to remove all stems of plants the insect attacked during the growing season. Eggs that will hatch the following spring are typically laid inside those stems, so don’t add them to your compost pile.