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.

Image by dasmant

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 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.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Laurie on October 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Yes! Foliage is our friend!!!We rake and recycle them in our compost or use them for mulch.Thanks for the eco-reminder.


    • Thanks for commenting. Using them for mulch and in your compost makes such good sense. It’s hard to believe people actually bag them and throw them away!


  2. Thanks for this – I was thinking about doing one similar. Some gardeners will come and pick up your bagged leaves as well. We rake ours to the trees to protect the roots. The rest we put either in the compost or directly on the soil in the garden for winter nesting. I’ve heard mold can develop under the snow, but we’ve not had that problem or if we do get mold, my husband the gardener doesn’t mind it. We had a leaf blower for one season and realized it wasn’t doing the job, required gas, and was more of a headache than actually getting outside with the rakes. We also wait until our three large maples are almost entirely shed in our backyard so we only have to go out once.


  3. […] The Eco-friendly Approach to Fall Leaves […]


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