Falling Leaves – A Yard Full of Gold

leaves before the fall

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Raking leaves into piles and then burning them was a tradition from my childhood. When I became an adult, I realized this was one tradition that needed to go. We don’t need to send more smoke up into the air. In many townships, municipalities, and regions of the United States, the act of burning leaves is in violation of the law.

The Environmental Protection Agency warns against the burning of leaves because it causes air pollution, health problems, and fire hazards. Sending them to the landfill is no longer an alternative in most communities because of already overburdened landfills. Besides, putting them in plastic trash bags and hauling away organic matter to the landfill makes little or no sense.

It’s still a good idea to get most of the leaves up off the grass. However, leaving a few on the ground will provide some great fertilizer on the soil as they decompose.

We have more than an acre in our backyard where three old maples made themselves at home decades ago.

turning the ground gold

Right now the yard is beginning to look more gold than green as the leaves begin their descent from the limbs. We’re waiting now until most of those limbs are bare. When that happens, we plan to mow the grass one last time with our tractor. We’ll mow right over the leaves, chopping them into smaller pieces, which we’ll blow into long piles. From there it’s easy to put the leaves wherever we decide we want them.

waiting for mower

First, we put a protective layer around the base of the trees from where they fell. Then we load up the wagon several times and haul the piles over to the garden where we place the chopped up leaves. We’ve never had a problem with mold developing as I’ve heard some people say, but maybe it’s because we use chopped up leaves rather than putting them on whole.

garden is ready for some organic material

The rest of the leaves we put next to our compost bin and use them throughout the winter as layers between our food scraps. If you prefer, you could even bag them and keep them in the shed to use as needed.

If you don’t have a garden or you don’t compost, look for gardeners in your neighborhood. Some of them may be eager to haul away your leaves after you’ve raked them. Remember, the leaves are organic matter, so it just makes good sense to use them accordingly.

What do you do with your raked leaves?

Published by P. C. Zick

I write. It's as simple and as complicated as that. Storytelling creates our cultural legacy.

23 thoughts on “Falling Leaves – A Yard Full of Gold

  1. We used to dip the pretty ones in wax and make decorations out of them. The color and integrity would last for quite a while, and it was far less expensive than buying store-bought decor. (Of course, we only had two trees, not acres of them.) The rest would get mowed over where they happened to fall.


  2. Good work. The leaves by the compost pile is a great idea. Mine all go into the hen house, and in the spring out they come all shredded and pooped on and then into the compost. Also if you fill a few rubbish bags with the dampish leaves and leave them in the shed for a year or so you will have the most fantastic soil conditioner ever. Awesome stuff. You have to forget they are there though for this to work!! Lovely to meet you.. celi


    1. Thanks. I’m beginning to see the value in adding the photos to my posts so I’m trying to embrace my photography. There are days when I’m ready to move into an apartment, but then again there’s much satisfaction in growing a garden. Not so sure about mowing though!


    1. You’re right, Phil. We inherited a small manmade pond when we bought this house but it sat right under two large maples. The pond lasted about one year before I realized it quadrupled my work. Impossible to keep the leaves and seed pods out of it. We think we’ve come up with a manageable way to handle things as long as no cares that we wait until the last minute to do our raking and mowing.


  3. I used to live in a house surrounded by woods, so we would just rake the leaves back into the woods. Now that I live in California, we don’t have a nice fall with all the changing leaves and the like. What I really miss, besides the beauty of it, is jumping in piles of leaves as a kid. That and the brisk fall air with it’s slight woodsmoke smell. 🙂


    1. I agree – I just wrote a piece today about those memories of growing up in Michigan (it will post next week). We rake some of our leaves into the woods as well, but this year I may do more saving of them in big plastic bags. Thanks for stopping by!


  4. I enjoyed your blog entry about what to do with fallen leaves. I recall that 46 years ago,my boyfriend ( now my hubby) and I spent a lot of time walking through the leaves of Autumn.Now, the sound of feet shuffling the leaves away can carry me back to Stony Brook, Long Island and make me feel like a newly engaged lover again. I think I’ll close up the computer and ask Ed to take a walk with me down to the lake where leaves cover the walkway across the dam.



  5. Great idea to return leaves to the earth rather than burning them! Thanks for sharing ways to live more sustainably. Hope you’ll visit us again soon!


  6. I take some of my leaves and bury them in my vegetable garden. The rest, I mow over and set my lawnmower for “mulch.” It’s good for the grass.


      1. I’m hoping I don’t have to buy a new mower. Mine quit yesterday but I got the bulk of my leaves mulched on the front lawn. I’m hoping to find a part at a nice hardware store so that maybe I can fix it myself. I’ve had this mower about 8 years. Yes, it’s a craftsman electric mower. I don’t like to mess with gas mowers. The handle adjustment for the mulching is very easy to press. Most of the time I forget I have it and just leave it at one setting but yesterday I remembered : – )


  7. I hope you can fix it yourself. We have a tractor pieced together with duct tape and wire on one wheel for mowing our two-acre yard and hauling mulch, wood, etc. We keep praying over it with this mantra “One more year, please.”


  8. So many leaves! Those leaves will do wonders in the compost heap, even better if you mow over them first. Also good for turning into leaf mould, which is a very effective material for seedlings and for water retention benefits in sandy soils.


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