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.
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.
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.
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?