Keep it Green: Fall Leaf Cleanup

October 16, 2009, 10:45 am

With the crisp autumn air, pumpkin patches and warm apple cider comes another indisputable sign of fall—the crinkling of fallen leaves underfoot.
 
While this can be a charming aspect of the season, it also signals a day of leaf collection for those of us with yards to rake. Each year approximately 31 million tons of raked leaves and other yard waste end up in our nation’s landfills, clogging them with material that could be put to better use. You can help reduce the amount of this organic matter by following our green leaf cleanup tips, outlined below.
 
Putting Yard Waste to Good Use
The most environmentally friendly way to get rid of your leaves is to use them at home for another purpose. Shredded leaves make great fertilizer, which can be left on your lawn. If you’re going to leave they where they lie, consider running over them with a mulching mover so they break down more quickly and don’t get matted down. Shredded leaves can also be used as mulch or added to a compost bin, where they’ll decompose and produce nutrient-rich soil. You can learn more about starting your own compost bin here.
 
Human-Powered Cleanup
If you insist on ridding your lawn of leaves, make a commitment to gathering them using an environmentally friendly method. That means no gas-powered leaf blowers or lawn vacuums—instead consider using a manual leaf sweeper that uses rotating brushes to sweep leaves into a frame-mounted bag mounted. Push models and tractor-pulled models are available. And, don’t forget, if you want to collect leaves and get a good workout, there’s always good, old-fashioned raking!
 
Where to send your leaves
After both the young and the young-at-heart have taken turns jumping in your magnificent leaf piles, and it’s time to get them off of the lawn, remember to find out the best way to dispose of them. Many towns and cities have scheduled days for municipal leaf collection. Check with your community to see if this option exists, and follow their collection guidelines. Many municipalities instruct residents to leave yard waste in piles along the curb, to be scooped up by passing collection trucks. Others recommend using compostable leaf bags, which are completely biodegradable. Still others dictate a drop-off location, where leaves will be collected.
 
Another option for getting rid of leaves is composting them. You can do this yourself or drop them off at a local composting facility.  To locate a facility near you, visit www.findacomposter.com.
 
For more tips on reducing yard waste visit EPA.gov. Have an opinion about yard waste? Join the “Greenversation!”