11 Things You Can Do With a Pile of Leaves

Updated: Jan. 08, 2024

From composting to mulching to decorating your home, or just having some backyard fun, you can do a lot with a pile of leaves.

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Family Jumping Into Pile Of Autumn Leaves
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Jump in Them

Let’s just start with the most obvious, fun thing you can do with a pile of leaves. Jump in them! This classic childhood activity is sure to get any youngsters (or grown-ups) excited for the fall season. There’s something about a big pile of dried leaves that beckons to be jumped in. Don’t be shy — jump in!
While you’re at it, you can also check out how to reuse and repurpose the dry leaves.

Editor’s Tip: With fall comes the promise of leaves, clumping up on your grass and matting down on your flowerbeds, check out these useful tools that will help you collect leaves.

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Fall leaves make the perfect seasonal addition to your compost pile. Simply layer them between all your green garden debris.

Balance is everything when it comes to successful composting. To maintain a healthy ratio of carbon and nitrogen materials in the compost bin, your pile should have about two-thirds carbon (brown) materials and one-third nitrogen (green) materials. Here are a few tips for making leaf compost this fall.

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Ludmila Ivashchenko/Shutterstock

Press Them

Gather up some of the most attractive leaves and press them to create beautiful artwork. To press leaves, be sure to choose ones that aren’t spotted or bumpy. Then sandwich the leaves between newspaper or waxed paper and lay your heaviest books on top for about two weeks, or until the leaves are totally dry. Another option is to press leaves under a piece of glass on a coffee table for seasonal decor.

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Take Family Photos

There’s no doubt fall is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year, from the sun’s more gentle light to the incredible foliage colors. Before you start raking your yard, take some family photos at the height of the fall leaves’ vibrant color.

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Create a Seasonal Still Life

You don’t have to do much to make fall leaves look pretty. Create a leaf bouquet by collecting undamaged leaves with long stems and putting them in water, like flowers. Unless they are really dry to start, they will look fresh for at least a couple of days.

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fall wreath
Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

Make a Wreath

A seasonal wreath on your front door is an inviting statement and a festive way to greet the season. This gorgeous wreath uses dried twigs and leaves, along with some gourds. You could also add pine cones and acorns.

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Use Them as Protective Mulch

Before you rake up and get rid of your fall foliage, make use of it. Leaves make a wonderfully protective cover for overwintering tender perennials or root crops stored in the ground. The leaves work to successfully insulate your crops, allowing such things as fall-planted garlic to root without sprouting.

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Make a Scarecrow

Maybe you actually want to use a scarecrow to discourage birds from disturbing and feeding on recently cast seed and growing crops. Or maybe you want to make a silly leaf person that sits in a chair by your front door. Either way, making a scarecrow is fun! Simply stuff the leaves into old clothes or even burlap bags.

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Have Fun with Fido

Most dogs love to jump into a pile of leaves, and many will be just as happy to have you pile them up high around their heads for one adorable photo op.

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Make a Gallery Wall

Add year-round nature to your home by making a gallery wall of fall foliage. You can collect the prettiest leaves, iron them between sheets of waxed paper, mount them on mat board and frame them.

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Shred and Spread Them

When you feel you’ve had enough fun, creativity and productivity with your fall foliage, what’s left to do? You can shred and spread them! Either go over the pile with a mulching lawnmower or toss them into a shredder. The finely cut leaves will decompose much faster and rapidly become part of the soil you spread them on.