Green as she was in so many other ways, my grandmother’s manner of leaf disposal such a waste. Even today, depending on where you are, you see people needlessly destroying a tremendous natural resource. If your idea of “leaf pick up” means you rake them into the street or into cans and burn them, or bag them into plastic, please rethink your notion of a leaf pick up.
Rather than thinking, “leaf pick up,” why don’t we think in terms of leaf removal, as in re-moving those red and gold beauties to another spot, one fully able to make them “green” again.
Let’s face it: burning is out of the question. Although it seems to some a natural method of leaf removal, since the burning of vegetation is in certain circumstances beneficial to the environment, in the case of burning yard leaves, it is not. A leaf pick up that ends in burning generates pollution and, at least in the suburbs, it is illegal. Leaf removal with gas-powered leaf blowers creates both noise and air pollution and wastes fossil fuel. Wrapping perfect biodegradables inside plastic that will not degrade for centuries is worse than throwing good money after bad.
Make a Sensible Plan for Leaf Pick Up
The only sensible ways to organize a leaf pick up is to acknowledge that fallen leaves have not yet reached the end of their cycle of life and utility. It’s simply time to re-move the leaves to where they can be of further service…and you won’t need to buy bags, gas, or first aid kits to treat the burns, either.
Here are some leaf removal ideas to get us started:
Let the Wind do the Blowing—Rake for Great Leaf Removal
Blow off the blower, and get more exercise. Are you prone to blisters from the rake handle? If so, use light cotton gloves. As you rake, you are creating free natural fertilizer; the dry leaves crumble a little, helping to replenish nutrients to the soil for a greener, fuller lawn next year. Raking doesn’t bother the neighbors with noise pollution, and the kids might like to play in the piles in the yard—never in the street!
Leave Them Alone
Thunderbolts will not smite you if some stray leaves remain strewn about the yard or garden for the winter. Let some decay naturally. Before they disappear, your leaves will feed countless beneficial insects and more than likely a few small critters, too. Birds, squirrels and other local animal residents use leaves to insulate their homes. The same idea can be adapted for your shrubs, since leaves will help protect their root systems during the snow season.
Compost Your Leaf Pick Up and Get the Mulchies
Those of you with a compost pile get incredible benefits from a leaf pick up. Never consider leaf disposal again! Just cart the fallen leaves on over, and toss them atop your compost pile. As leaves decay, they make compost dense with organic nutrients. Fallen leaves make superlative mulch, too, so keeping some in the garden at least over the winter benefits your plants and soil alike. Chop them up, grind them, shred them—any way you slice dried leaves, they make superior mulch.
Autumn leaves turn gold, red, and brown, but you can still keep them green if you stick closer to nature during your annual rakefest.