There is nothing more beautiful than fall foliage, but what do you do with the fallen leaves? Yard waste is the second-largest component of our trash stream (behind paper and corrugated boxes), according to the EPA, and makes up roughly 20 percent of most communities’ haul. Additionally, trucking the bulky bags to the dump requires a lot of fuel.
Americans can be obsessive about fallen leaves on the lawn.
We need to understand that dead leaves are actually Mother Nature’s food, rich in minerals, falling right where they are needed. They can be composted into nutrient-rich soil for your spring garden. The leaves of one large shade tree can be worth as much as $50 of plant food and humus, according to CompostGuide.com. Leaves are a great soil conditioner and can be added to your perennial beds for nutrients and as protective mulch. With a good mulching mower you can leave a large number of leaves on the lawn to add nutrition, but don’t leave so much that they smother the lawn and cause snow mold. If you prefer to get rid of them, check and see if your community has garden waste recycling programs, or offer them to neighbors, garden clubs or local farmers for composting.
When gathering your leaves, rakes are more effective, cheaper and certainly “greener” than a leaf blower! And – you burn calories. If you must use a leaf blower, try a quiet, energy efficient electric one.
If you do bag your leaves, use biodegradable ones. Green Genius makes bags that are the same strength and price of regular trash bags, but biodegrade within 1 to 15 years. You can purchase them at Whole Foods or Hannafords.
Fallen leaves are part of nature’s perfect system, so please don’t interfere and throw them away.