There is nothing more beautiful than fall foliage, but what do you do with the fallen leaves? According to the EPA, yard waste is the second-largest component of our trash stream (behind paper and corrugated boxes) 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. Below are some eco-friendly approaches to dealing with them.
Fallen Leaves Are Food
Dead leaves are actually Mother Nature’s food, rich in minerals, falling right where they are needed. 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.
Fallen Leaves Make Super Compost
Fallen leaves 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 also be added to your perennial beds for nutrients and as protective mulch.
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. Most town transfer stations take leaves for composting too.
Rakes Are Greener Than Leaf Blowers
When gathering your leaves, rakes are more effective, cheaper and certainly “greener” than a leaf blower! And – raking is great exercise! When using a leaf blower, try a quiet, energy-efficient electric one.
Use Biodegradable Bags For Leaf Bagging
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.
One of my readers commented that she uses barrels for her raked leaves that then get emptied into the recycle trucks which comes every week for six weeks. No bags at all! That’s the way to go if you don’t want to use the leaves. I love the idea of recycle trucks for leaves – towns have come a long way!
For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.
13 thoughts on “Eco-Friendly Approach to Fall Clean Up”
Love these ideas!
Thank you for commenting!
Thank you Betsy! I was raking today, thinking about how silly it seems to collect leaves for recycle trucks when they are natural mulch and fertilizer/ Since my neighbors wouldn’t appreciate my leaves blowing all over their raked yards, I rake mine too. However, I don’t use bags of any kind.. I pack barrels and they get emptied into the truck. I have seven large barrels and I fill them several times (the recycle truck comes every week for six weeks and I always have them out there). When I am not using the barrels (which is the whole rest of the year) I stack them one inside the other and put them in a corner of my garage. I avoid stand plastic bags of any kind and can’t see wasting paper either if I can help it.
Thanks for providing this forum to chat about these things!
Thank you Betsy! Thanks for the great tips.
I was raking today, thinking about how silly it seems to collect leaves when they are natural mulch and fertilizer. Since my neighbors wouldn’t appreciate my leaves blowing all over their raked yards, I rake mine too. However, I pack barrels and they get emptied into the truck. I have seven large barrels and I fill them several times (the recycle truck comes every week for six weeks and I always have them out there). When I am not using the barrels (which is the whole rest of the year) I stack them one inside the other and put them in a corner of my garage.
Thank you Starr for commenting and for providing such good information. I didn’t know recycle trucks pick up leaves too, and barrels make much more sense than plastic bags. I will add that to my post. Thanks…….
I mulch my leaves by mowing right over them.
Although I do use the gas mower, in the long run I think it more environmentally sound and sure is easier than raking & bagging.
That’s the way to do it April! Thanks for commenting……
We have a wonderful yard waste program here in San Jose. I compost as much as I can, but we can leave a pile of yard waste at the curb on pickup day. One truck grabs the waste between two massive grabbers, then empties it into another truck. It’s made into compost and you can then buy it directly from the city by the truckload. My Chinese Pistache drops small leaves, which I scoop up and use directly in a nearby flower bed. Isn’t nature grand?
Thanks for letting me know. I’ve been hearing from other readers about what their towns are doing with fall leaves. It’s encouraging to hear about real progress like this. Good to hear from you!
Thank you, Betsy.
Thank you for commenting!!!
I meant to tell you that you do a great job!!!
And wonderful to walk with you!
Affirming love, joy, appreciation and well-being always, Dorothy
~ Alkaline Lifestyle Health Coach For energy, optimal health, mental clarity & and a trim body. Graduate: Ann Wigmore Natural Health Institute and Hippocrates Life Force Training
508-888-6677 Cell: 508-280-3125 http://www.PathToVibrantHealth.com
Thank you Dorothy! I appreciate your kind words! I loved that walk and look forward to doing it again!!!