Leave the Leaves

Leave the Leaves

 Leaving deep piles of whole leaves on your lawn is good – a good way to kill the lawn that is.  But leaves are a really valuable resource if you use them properly.  First, if your mower can mulch the leaves small enough to fall down to the base of your grass – you should.  Finely chopped leaves will help hold water on the roots of the grass, provide a little insulation, and rapidly turn into fertilizer next year.   They also help control weeds. Why experts say you shouldn't bag your leaves this fall : NPRRaking leaves

 But if you are endowed with way too many leaves to pull this off, there are still good uses for those former solar collectors.  Second best - Whole leaves provide cover and protection for many animals and insects when raked over garden beds Leave the Leaves! | Xerces Society including bumble bees and many butterflies.  

Third choice - Mulching leaves down with a mower can provide a very useful cover for garden beds as well.   The smaller bits are less likely to be moved much by the wind (your neighbors may thank you) and will often break down by Spring, fertilizing your garden.  Apply about two inches of chopped leaves to your beds, and your perennials will thank you for the cover that prevents drying out.

For those who compost, fallen leaves are gold. OK technically they are browns; but they are really valuable.   Good compost is made with a mixture of greens (think grass trimmings and food scraps) and browns (dry leaves).  But you need 3 to 5 times as much browns (high carbon) as greensbutterfly (high nitrogen). Shredding them with a mower will help them break down into great compost more quickly. Composting At Home | US EPAComposting Publications, Resources, and Plans | OSU Extension Service (oregonstate.edu)

Whatever you decide, do not rake or blow them into the street.  Leaves can block street drains and cause flooding, and pushing your leaves into the street is illegal in Riverside. You should also avoid placing leaves into the regular garbage (rather than yard waste). Regular landfills do not have enough oxygen to promote healthy breakdown of leaves, and the alternative anaerobic process releases lots of methane (a serious greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere.  

The village’s waste hauler will take unlimited amounts of yard waste in cans of less than 35 gallons and 50 pounds, or yard waste bags (less than 50 pounds).  Collection continues until the end of November. https://www.riverside.il.us/306/Trash-Yard-Waste

By the way, blowing or leaving grass clippings in the street is also illegal in Riverside, compost anyone?