Nature’s Mulch and More: The Many Hats Leaves Wear

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Walking around Miami University’s campus is so gorgeous now that the leaves are turning. It is a pity to see all the pretty leaves and know that they will soon be gone forever—well, most of them, anyway! Hopefully the following tips can help you preserve and utilize the leaves you are especially fond of during this beautiful time of year.

If you encounter a leaf you absolutely want to keep, you have two methods of preserving it. The first (and simplest) is to snap a photograph. Tasteful photos of leaves can add a lot to a room in terms of décor, and if you happen across fabric printing paper, you can decorate a tote bag with cut-outs of leaves for a charming way to reduce plastic bag waste.

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The second way to preserve a leaf is to press it. Pressing can be done using a textbook and notecards. Simply place your dry leaf between two notecards and sandwich it inside of your textbook. Then wait a long, long time—at least one week but up to two if the humidity is high. Consider placing your pressed leaves in picture frames, putting them on your fridge, or, best of all, laminating them. Laminated leaves can be cut out and made into delightful magnets, or you can make a bookmark out of a row of leaves.

If you find yourself collecting way too many leaves to preserve them all, you can still make those leaves “yours”… if you garden, that is. Leaves make wonderful compost mixed into soil in the spring, whereas in fall, they can act as a shield from snow and cold if they are dumped in a layer on top of a garden or flower bed.

Regardless of your situation and garden bed ownership, there are ways to keep a piece of autumn as a cute, natural souvenir. Try one soon!

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