Five Ways To Preserve Fall Leaves

brightly colored fall leaves

Save a little piece of fall by preserving leaves! There are several ways to preserve leaves, ranging from simple to complicated. Read through the methods below and select the preservation mode that works best for you.

To start, collect a variety of leaves in different shapes and colors. Wash the leaves off gently with lukewarm water, pat them dry and prepare for whichever method you'll be using to preserve them. To get the best results, don't wait more than a few days between collecting the leaves and preserving them.

1. Newspaper

Take your leaves and slip them between two pieces of newspaper. Then take the newspaper sandwich and place it between two heavy books for at least two days. The result? Beautiful, flat, dried leaves. This method is fast, simple, and great for kids. the only drawback is that the leaves won't last for more than a season. This approach can also work with a traditional flower press in place of the newspaper and books.

hands feeding a paper into a laminating machine

2. Lamination

The most important part of the lamination method is making sure your leaves are nice and dry before you send them through the machine. Laminating leaves can help preserve the color and keep them looking brighter for longer, but it's hard to come by a professional laminator. Some people have success pseudo-laminating with clear tape. It's easy, but that method does allow the leaves to fade a little faster.

3. Wax

You can pick up some paraffin wax from craft stores, or a superstore like Walmart or Amazon. Melt in in your crockpot on a low setting, then, lay out large sheets of wax paper on the counter. Take your dried leaves and dip them gently in the melted wax, letting the excess drip off into the pot of paraffin. Then lay the leaves out on the wax paper to dry. You can dip the leaves more than once, but the more you dip, the more noticeable the wax will be. This method is a little trickier, but it preserves the leaves a little better than the first two.

a clothes iron

4. Iron and Wax Paper

Set your iron to medium and let it heat while you get some paper towels and cut strips of wax paper to matching sizes. On a flat surface, lay down one paper towel and one piece of wax paper. Then take a leaf or two (as many will fit on the sheet) and lay them on top of the wax paper without letting the leaves touch each other.

Lay the second sheet of wax paper on top, covering all the leaves. On top of that second sheet of wax paper, place the second paper towel. Once you have your leaves situated, iron on top of the paper towel for three to five minutes. It seems like a long time, but it will seal the wax into the leaves and keep them well preserved. This method does take more time, but it preserves the leaves very naturally.

5. Glycerin

Take ¼ cup of glycerin and ½ cup of water and mix them together in a baking dish. Then take your leaves and lay them in this solution. Take a smaller baking dish, large enough to cover the leaves but small enough to fit in the larger baking dish, and place it on top of the leaves. Leave the leaves in the solution for three to four days. This solution is easy, but it obviously takes much longer than the others. At the end of the three days, though, your leaves will be beautifully preserved.

If fall is your favorite time of year, give one of these leaf preservation tricks a try. Now that you know how, pick a method that will help you craft a fall garland or one that will be easy to tackle with a handful of eager kids. Once you’ve mastered the art of fall leaf preservation, tackle a new fun fall DIY like DIY home scents or DIY wreaths!