Fall has graced us with the beauty of fiery foliage once again, but those golden leaves won’t stay up in the trees forever—hence the name “fall”. When it comes to clearing said leaves, you have a few options. Fallen leaves turn into free and sustainable garden material that you could put to good use, or you could take advantage of your town’s pile collection service.
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According to Kurt Morrell of the New York Botanical Garden,“The most environmentally conscious thing to do is to leave the leaves on your lawn”. If leaves are cleared off your lawn and left to decay in the street, they will release phosphorous, which can make its way into storm drains and waterways. Instead, shred up the leaves finely with a mulching mower and let them fertilize the lawn or rake the choppings under shrubs and onto flower beds.
In addition to phosphorous, decaying leaves also generate carbon, which helps turn food scraps into compost material – a win for both the gardener and the garbage collector. Mix a pile of dead leaves and grass clippings at 2:1 ratio. Spread the leaves on top so they can soak up moisture from food scraps while keeping a lid on odors; turn over regularly to repel pests. Or just compost the leaves alone in a pile to make leaf mold.
Most municipalities pick up leaf piles from the curb for compost. If leaf-collection times are scarce, you may opt to bag them, provided your city or town allows it (your neighbors will appreciate the debris not blowing into their yard). Be sure you know what bags are acceptable—usually those made from paper or biodegradable plant starch (like BioBag Lawn & Leaf Bags).
(This idea originally appeared in This Old House magazine. Author //Mary Kate Hogan.)