Don’t bag leaves; recycle for lawns

Last Saturday was a great day to work outside to finish up garden chores. I couldn’t help but notice as I was driving around running errands the number of people using leaf blowers to gather all the leaves at the curb for pickup.

In many cases, there weren’t that many leaves. I asked myself, “Why can’t people run over the leaves with the lawn mower several times and chip them into small pieces and leave them to decay on the grass?” I couldn’t answer other than the fact that they have always done it this way and it was their normal habit.

The point is, it’s not necessary to bag these leaves and put them at the curb. These are a valuable natural resource that can be returned back to the lawn or garden to provide a good source of organic matter.

Small amounts of leaves can be mowed a few times, less if you have a mulching mower, and left on the ground to break down.

Or, after mowing, collect them and place them in the compost pile along with any grass clippings.

Now granted, mowing the leaves won’t work very well if you have lots of shade trees and the leaf layer is thick. I know that sometimes there are just too many leaves and not enough space in your landscape to do anything with them. These should go to a compost facility.

If you have to bag the leaves or blow them to the curb for someone to pick up, make sure that they are taking the leaves to a compost facility and not to the landfill.

I also wondered if people didn’t like the look of a leaf-cluttered lawn. When you mulch the leaves and they remain on the lawn, perhaps this isn’t the “perfect green manicured” lawn that you have in mind.

Then I got to thinking about the whole sustainable gardening effort and the fact that we have to change our thinking about what our landscape might look like if we change our habits that keep everything pristine.

I don’t mind a few dandelions, clover and other colorful weeds in our lawn but my husband and many others prefer a perfectly green lawn. In this case, it’s a matter of personal preference.

I don’t bash people who use chemicals in their landscape — this is a choice. I do, however, encourage people to use them properly. In other words, don’t grab the first thing off the shelf and spray if you haven’t identified the problem first.

Many of the chemicals we have today are much safer and of new technologies that are less harmful to the environment. But they still have to be used properly.

I also realized that sometimes there are just too many leaves and not enough space in your landscape to do anything with them. These should go to a compost facility.

So, back to the leaves left on the lawn to break down and provide organic matter, change your thinking (and your idea of a perfect lawn) and realize that it’s good for the soil and much easier in the long run.

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