Leave the Leaves!
Piles of leaves along roadway in the fall – it costs money to pick them up and dispose of them. They cause unsafe driving and biking conditions, clog storm drains, and can become a source of unwanted nutrient runoff into our streams and rivers causing unhealthy algae blooms.
We encourage you to leave your leaves on your property to help create a “healthy yard.”
- Shred your leaves with a mulching mower and leave them in place on your lawn.
- Shred them with a mulching mower and use them as mulch in your borders and flowerbeds.
- Blow them to the back of your beds where you can leave them to decompose over time providing habitat for the little critters that will become next year’s butterflies, moths…
- Leave them (shredded or not) alone in wooded areas.
- Compost them in a pile or container (with or without shredding).
All you need are your trusty rake, a mulching mower, leaf shredder or weed whacker in a garbage can. A leaf blower or vacuum can help you remove leaves from your beds for shredding.
- Landscape beds – esp. with perennials – carefully remove leaves to shred them and return them in-place as a mulch. Use a leaf vacuum for easiest process.
- Too many leaves – (remember that shredding reduces up to 10:1 in volume). “Hide” excess shredded leaves in landscape beds or (unshredded) in wooded areas. Or compost excess shredded leaves on-site.
- Last resort – transfer shredded leaves off-property for use elsewhere – share leaf mulch with a neighbor or community garden!
- Save money! Reduce the need for commercial fertilizers. Never buy mulch again.
- Save effort! Mulching (shredding) leaves in-place is easier and faster than raking and bagging. Requires less manpower. (Faster, smaller work crews.)
- Returns much-needed nutrients to lawn, landscape beds and/or wooded areas.
- Supports wildlife providing shelter for the insects that pollinate our gardens, that feed the birds and other wildlife.
- Helps retain moisture, reduced need for watering in dry spells and reducing runoff.
- Protects landscape beds from frost over the winter and cools root zones in the summer.
- Lightens clay soils and gives fluff to sandy soils.
- Feeds the soil Increases biological activity of fungus, earthworms, microbes & beneficial soil organisms.
- Grass-cycling (mulching-in-place of lawn clippings) provides similar benefits for turf.
- Eliminates or reduces yard waste from the entering municipal “waste stream.”
CONCERNS (about the current leaf management approach)
- Blowing of leaves off landscape beds removes all leaf duff, loose top dirt, and beneficial organisms. Creates a biologically “sterile zone.”
- Blowing leaves leads to unnecessary noise pollution and results in airborne dust & fumes that can aggravate certain health conditions including asthma and allergies.
- Filling bags and bags with leaves is time consuming and unnecessary.
- Picking up of bags of leaves curbside often requires overtime for DPW or Parks staff.
- Transporting and disposing of leaves from curbside pickup wastes fuel and contributes to air pollution. Leaving leaves curbside results in decomposition, leaching nutrients (e.g.; excess phosphorus) into storm drains.
Make your autumn clean up easier. Love ’em and Leave ’em!
These practices will help you to go one better than the mere basics of autumn leaf disposal. This spring the Township enacted new leaf and brush disposal guidelines in Ordinance 21-08, which prohibit piling leaves at the curbside unbagged for pickup. Bagging leaves is time consuming, and expensive if you have a lot of leaves. So, we encourage you to gift yourself and the critters that survive in the habitat you can provide by loving and leafing ’em!