We love autumn for its cool breezes, red and golden hues and all things pumpkin spice. But eventually the bright foliage turns to dull clumps of brown strewn across our yards. You might be tempted to rid yourself of the mess, but those leaves can be quite useful to your flower beds, lawn, garden and more, and they can make your springtime yard work less daunting. Plus, repurposing leaves involves greenscaping methods recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), so you can rest assured that you’re doing something good for the environment. Try these options.

Mulch beds

If you have a treed lot, you don’t need to spend cash on mulch bags at your local garden center. Leaf mulch does double duty to protect and nourish your perennial beds or winter veggie plantings. Use your leaf blower’s mulching function and bag attachment to collect the debris, then spread it around flower bed roots, over areas where you’ve planted spring bulbs or in the garden around root vegetables and other cool-weather crops. If you don’t have a leaf blower or a mulching mower, you can still get to work with a rake and add a light layer as insulation to your decorative beds.

Feed your lawn

If you’re short on time for fall chores, just run the lawnmower over the leaves once or twice. Let the resulting leaf shreds and lawn clippings serve as a natural rich fertilizer and weed control for your yard, say turfgrass professionals from Michigan State University. You’ll enjoy a lush, green expanse next year.

Make compost

Dropped leaves make great brown matter for your compost bin. Shredded leaves work best. You’ll need nitrogen-rich green matter to help break down the pile. Try fruit and veggie waste, coffee grounds, crushed egg shells and other kitchen refuse. For an even speedier process, add manure. Layer materials together and turn your compost mixture often.

Amend the soil

Trees pull valuable minerals from the ground and deposit a portion of those nutrients in their leaves. That’s why newly fallen foliage makes such a great soil amendment. Fall is a great time to plan out new flower bed projects or replenish vegetable gardens for spring planting. So get out that tiller, recommends The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Add a layer of leaves and any other soil amendments to your beds and till right in.

Making leaf mold for planting and potting

Leaf mold is simply decomposed leaves that can benefit your yard maintenance. The matter can be added to your planting beds, garden or decorative pots to help retain moisture and reduce watering. Making leaf mold can take some time, but it’s pretty easy. You can rake leaves into a contained heap in your yard and let nature do the work over the course of a year or more. Just keep it moist. Enclose the pile with staked-up chicken wire or landscape fabric if you’re worried about wind scattering your stash.