Taking the Fear Out of Fall: Leave the Leaves

This Fall, Leave the leaves. It sounds like blasphemy but it can be done. While the countdown to Spring has begun, we're all focused on Spring tasks but we're going to take a minute to transport you back to the joys and the terrors of Fall. Think moderate temperatures (maybe), hot cocoa, warm fires and the dazzling display of burgundy, ochre and gold signaling the end of the growing season. Smiling yet?

Then, think of all those leaves, cloaking your immaculate *we hope* lawn, covering your car, making an absolute mess as bigger and bigger piles adorn street corners waiting for pickups.

Don't forget about the work. If you're one of the lucky people who has the 'joy' of doing your Fall cleanup you may not be smiling so much anymore. As any landscaper, or intrepid leaf cleaner can tell you, the bigger and more plentiful the trees on your property, the harder and more time consuming this task can be. Those delightful, airy leaves, en masse, can be hard, and dear Lord, very heavy, not to mention cumbersome, to move. The unrelenting sound of gas blowers, broken rakes and your aching back. If you hire a company for Fall leaf cleanups, the pain still hits you - in the wallet. Most people don't consider it but leaf removal costs your town, and by extension you, in the form of your taxes, thousands of dollars each year.

But is it necessary?

You heard me correctly. Is it necessary? Good for the environment? Good for your back? Easy on your overtaxed wallet? Consider this article from the National Wildlife Foundation.

You can make Fall a much more enjoyable, less expensive and better for your garden by recycling your leaves. Your garden is it's own ecosystem, the act of recycling nutrients back into the soil aids in creating beautiful, brown, crumbly organic mulch - no chemicals required. Think forest floor. This idea is slowly catching steam around the country, Bedford and Irvington, NY etc.

The How:

  1. Mulch garden beds to insulate the soil during temperature changes, suppress weeds, improve drainage and soil structure.
  2. Mulch leaves on your lawn with your mower to a depth of 6". Wait for leaves to amass and repeat, 2 or 3 times throughout the season. This will serve as a natural fertilizer for a healthier lawn.
  3. Save some leaves for composting to be top dress your soil year round.

Note: Hard surfaces should still be cleaned off for safety and to avoid clogging your drains and storm pipes.

This will require some changes on your part, or on the part of your landscaper, but change is good. Think, you could start a neighborhood trend. You could take it up with your Department of Public Works and be an environmental hero. Best of all, you will reclaim time spent on the weekend schlepping leaves through the yard. More time for fires, jumping in leaf piles, cocoa and football.