Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Leave Leaves Alone

The following message was contained in an email from the Town of Bedford:

Fellow Residents, 

Autumn is here, and with it the annual ritual of fall leaf clean-up is under way. I want to urge a practice that can help us control costs, keep your property healthier, and protect the environment.  

We have come to consider leaves something to be disposed of – instead of viewing them as the valuable resource they are. We spend time blowing or raking them into piles on the street, into bags stacked curb-side, left for town pickup. When the Town collects, hauls, and disposes leaves, it costs taxpayers more than $30,000 a year! But what we’ve done is interrupt nature’s own processes, remove the nutrients in the leaves, instead of returning them to nourish the soil and the grass or plants that grow on your property.

The best thing you can do with your leaves is leave them on your property. 

You can: 
 • Shred them with a lawn mower using a mulcher mower and simply leave them in place on your lawn. (A regular homeowner mower works well too if you remove the collection bag and close the flap.) Mower deck attachments for commercial landscapers are available and mulch leaves very effectively.  
• Compost them in a pile or container; with or without shredding, but shredding is reduced more quickly to compost.  
• Shred them and use them as mulch on your borders and flowerbeds.  
• If you border a wooded area or park, rake the leaves into the woods. (When you rake into the woods, spread them out so they look natural, are no greater than a foot in depth, and doesn’t create an unsafe condition for those who may walk there.) 

You can do this yourself if you take care of your own property. If you use a contractor, you can ask them to use these procedures this fall. If they aren’t sure what to do, you can urge them to attend training being offered in Dobbs Ferry Village Hall,October 27th @ 7pm or at Eastchester Town Hall November 3rd @ 7:45pm. 

The benefits are clear. You’ll reduce your need for commercial fertilizers, and may never buy mulch again. You’ll save effort: most homeowners (and landscapers) find that mulching leaves in place actually is easier than raking or blowing them to the curb. It helps keep your property healthy: leaf mulch recycles nutrients into your soil and helps retain moisture, reducing the need for watering in dry spells. The less picked up, the less the Town needs to spend on disposal. It reduces noise pollution by not requiring as much blowing around of leaves. Finally, transporting and disposing leaves wastes energy and contributes to pollution. 

For more information about mulching-in-place and composting of leaves, go to either of two sites put up by local villages: 

Once you start doing this, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is and how silly the old ways seemed. 

Thank you, Lee Roberts

Please leave your leaves alone this fall!  It's best for you, your lawn, and the environment!

-Adam Zorn, Naturalist