- Hello – I published this post four years ago when I realized that so many of my neighbors were raking leaves and then giving them to the waste collector. Where they went from there, I had no idea.
And now that I’m back in Florida for the winter, my waste management collector reminded me about putting out my yard waste on the same day as recyclables and garbage.
Wait a second – those large sycamore leaves piling up in our front yard, are gold for other areas of our yard and garden. We will rake them into places where they can do their job – decompose and help other things grow.
So without any more hesitation, here’s how we deal with the autumn gold.
- Yesterday I read in the newspaper that leaf pickup begins in our area this week. I’m shaking my head in amazement that leaves are raked, put into garbage bags (biodegradable, but still. . .), and left on the curb for the waste management crews to haul away to where we know not.
But there are ways to know where those leaves go when you leave them in your yard. With that said, here’s my annual (second, no less) installment on the golden opportunity provided by those leaves littering your yard right now. So here goes:
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. In in many areas under drought conditions, burning leaves is an absolute no-no.
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. I wait to do my magic until most of those limbs are bare. Yesterday I mowed one last time with our tractor. I mowed right over the leaves, chopping them into smaller pieces. I mow carefully making sure to blow the leaves into long piles. Around the trees, I make sure the leaves blow around the base.
With the remaining leaves,we load them either the tractor trailer or wheelbarrows and haul the piles over to the garden We place the chopped up leaves on the almost barren garden. 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. But if you have shrubs, they make a good protective layer around those as well. Remember, the leaves are organic matter, so it just makes good sense to use them accordingly.
What do you do with your raked leaves?