Do you usually rake up the leaves and let the trash truck worry about their disposal? Why? Fall leaves make wonderful raw materials for arts and crafts. In the garden, they are extremely useful and contribute to the soil's health in the spring. With the fall holidays fast approaching, fallen leaves are excellent for use in common decorations. Do not discount the free decorative items that are quite literally falling from the trees.
- Make the soil cozy for earthworms. In its publication "Garden Highlights," Oregon State University experts suggest chopping up the wealth of fallen leaves. By turning them into mulch and adding a layer of about six inches to the soil, you will coax earthworms to stay closer to the surface in fall and benefit the roots of your plants.
- Stuff a scarecrow. With both Halloween and Thanksgiving having uses for scarecrow displays, why buy costly hay when free stuffing is actually falling from the trees? Use only a little bit of hay around the hands and feet for artistic versatility.
- Add some fresh leaves to the barbeque. Better Homes and Gardens notes that grapevine cuttings are great aromatics to add to the hot coals of a barbeque. Since fall is the time to cut by the sprawling vines, be sure to only use fresh clippings.
- Make a tree. This is a great activity for a rainy day and bored children. Paint the trunk and branches. Glue on the leaves. If you really want to get fancy, make some apple prints to turn the tree into an apple tree.
- Make Thanksgiving wreaths. Michaels has a great foam leaf project. Omit the foam leaves and use real dried leaves instead, the bigger the better.
- Rub the leaves. Put leaves underneath a brown piece of construction paper. Rub over each leaf with gold or red crayons. Repeat with other leaves. These rubbings make for gorgeous artwork.
- Craft bookmarks. These are great for holiday gift giving. Find some nice leaves of different sizes. Glue a smaller leave on top of a larger leaf. Write the recipient's name on the top leaf. Seal the art project with clear packing tape.
- Make a collage. The Columbus Museum of Art displays Georgia O'Keeffe's "Autumn Leaves" oil painting. Collect some leaves and dry them. Then try to recreate the painting as a collage.
- Make leaf hats. Collect plenty of leaves. Use florist wire to thread together leaves and attach them to an inexpensive hat. Dollar stores frequently carry large straw sunhats, which are perfect for this type of project. Whoever makes the craziest design wins.
- Get ready for the holidays with leaf-printed wrapping paper. Buy solid color wrapping paper. Choose a variety of pretty leaves that are still pliable. Paint the leaves in red, green or gold. Press the leaves to the paper and repeat. Make patterns or just randomly print on the wrapping paper.
More by Sylvia Cochran