Start a leafmould bin
Composted leaves make a fabulous soil conditioner called leafmould. This dark crumbly material creates a humus-rich root environment for woodland plants in particular. You can’t buy it from garden centres but it’s really simple to make your own in autumn. It takes about a year to break down. Quick option: Bag up gathered leaves in black plastic bin liners, tie the top and stab the sides with a garden fork to create holes so water and air can circulate. Simply put them out of the way for a year or so, adding a little water from time to time. Neater option: Place the leaves in a plastic dustbin with holes drilled in the base and around the sides. Store by your compost heap and water occasionally. Rustic option: If you have lots of leaves, build a semi-permenent mesh bin using a 4m (13ft) roll of chicken wire and four wooden stakes about 1.2m (4ft) tall. Find a shady, hidden spot in the garden, drive the stakes into the ground 90cm (3ft) apart to form a square. Wrap the chicken wire around the perimeter and secure in place with metal staples or u-shaped nails hammered into the wood. Leave a 10cm (4in) gap at the bottom so hedgehogs can use the leaves as a hibernation spot, but make sure there are no sharp pieces of wire that could maim or trap them. Always check for frogs and hedgehogs before sticking a fork in your bin.