Managing Fallen Leaves the Green Way

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It’s a beautiful sight to see…the crisp, colorful autumn leaves drifting slowing toward the ground…that is until your yard is covered in them! Then, the reality of what to do with all of those leaves sets in. You could haul out the leaf blower and stink up the neighborhood as you pile up the leaves; you could ambitiously opt to rake and bag all of them; or you could shred them while mowing the lawn which would add a nutrient-rich meal to your grass.

Perhaps the greenest option is to use non-polluting (and quiet) muscle power and rake the leaves, and throw them in the compost pile where they will degrade into ‘black gold”, an ideal soil amendment for your plants, flowers, and garden beds. Another green choice is to rake and spread leaves around the base of trees (instead of using wood mulch), as this gives earthworms a chance to enrich the soil by working fragments of the leaves into the ground. Don’t forget to have some fun and jump in the pile of leaves you’ve gathered before moving them to the compost bin or around trees!

Home mulching of leaves can also be a tremendous money-saver for your municipality since it could eliminate the need for leaf collection and perhaps reduce your taxes. Those truck-mounted vacuums are very expensive, noisy, and pollute the air. Even hiring extra crews to pick up the leaf bags is another expense that could be dropped from the town’s budget if residents and council members are on board.

If you do bag them, please consider the type of bag you collect the leaves in. There are now biodegradable and compostable corn-based plastic leaf bags on the market (many municipalities will not accept conventional plastic bags filled with yard waste), as well as the traditional paper yard waste bags (look for ones made of recycled paper).

Shredding the leaves with the mower and allowing them to remain on the lawn is good for the soil and grass, but of course the air and noise pollution generated is not. Keep in mind that areas with lots of oak leaves or pine needles may need to have lime added to the soil in conjunction with mulching to prevent soil acidity from rising.

Tag(s): Events, Going Green, Hazardous Products / Health Issues, Kitchens And Baths, Money Saving, The Great Green Outdoors

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