10 things to do with falling fall foliage

Girls play with leaves in a park among seasonal colored trees on an autumn day in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Videos by Rare

Videos by Rare

As the leaves change colors and descend to the ground, they make a colorful, natural carpet. Or a big mess, depending on how you look at it.

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Either way, there are plenty of things you can do with all those leaves. Here are 10 of our favorites.

1. Make some mulch

While you may have put your mower away for the year, here’s a good chance to give it one more run. Run your mower back and forth through a layer of leaves, then use the broken up leaves as mulch over your perennial garden.

2. Help out other gardens

If you have an excess of leaves, contact your city or county to find out if there is a leaf composting project in your area. Find out where you can drop them off.

3. Help your neighbors

If you’re in need of more mulch, talk a walk around your neighborhood and make a mental note of very tidy yards with big trees. These people probably rake and bag their leaves. Plan to contact them and ask if you can have their leaves for your compost pile. The answer is almost always yes.

4. Make a scarecrow

Make a scarecrow by stuffing leaves into old clothes — or even burlap bags, often available from a local coffee shop.

Set the scarecrow in a lawn chair by your front door as part of your Halloween decorations to amuse the mailman.

5. Help insect life

Fallen leaves provide winter cover for beneficial insects, such as lacewings and ground beetles. You can serve both your need for a neat garden and the insects’ need for winter homes by creating homes for them.

Make envelopes of chicken wire, fill them with fallen leaves and sticks, and place them in a sheltered location. Make them into creative shapes, and you have garden art, as well!

6. Make decorations

Collect the prettiest leaves and iron them between sheets of waxed paper. Mount them on matboards and frame them to enjoy year-round.

7. Make winter paths for your garden

Pile leaves in the paths between your vegetable garden beds. They will provide a dry walking surface during snowy wet weather, and next spring you can rake the decomposed leaves into your planting areas.

8. Make colorful hearts

Using a heart punch and different colored leaves, you can create a series of colorful hearts. Framed, it will look great in your home décor.

9. Make a leaf windcatcher

Attach colorful leaves to strings and hang them from a mobile outside. The swaying of the wind will create an image of constantly falling leaves and bring a burst of color to your porch.

10. The classic jump

Make a big pile of leaves in your front yard — a BIG pile — and jump in it.

When your neighbors stop and stare, invite them to join in the jumping.

Include the children and grandchildren for lifelong memories for them and for you.

What do you think?

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