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Making the Most of Fallen Leaves

It may possibly be the most beautiful time of the year. The air is crisp, but not cold, and it’s impossible to go a day without eating an apple or imbibing apple cider. Most importantly the leaves on trees are beginning to change colors. Trees that were once ordinary in look are now bright yellows and reds. I am lucky enough to have a maple tree right outside my bedroom window that within a few days will be a brilliant red normally unseen in nature.

Unfortunately this sight quickly turns to mirage when the leaves outstay the trees welcome and blanket the ground. We are then stuck with the conundrum of what to do with the trees unwanted counterparts. Though the sound of leaves crunching under footsteps is beautiful in it’s own right eventually one feels the need to make a decision on what to do with them.

Below I have compiled a list of suggestions for leaf management:

1.  Know Your Local Laws Relating to Yard Waste Disposal

Depending on where you live disposal rules vary. Many municipalities have separate collection for leaf litter and other landscape wastes. In some places that have separate programs for the collection of litter, like the state of Minnesota, it is illegal to mix yard waste with trash waste and you can get fined for putting your leaf trash out on the wrong day.  Check with your municipality to identify the natural waste management programs available in your area.

2. Do Not Burn Your Leaf  Waste

Not only is leaf burning illegal in states like New York, it can also be unhealthy and bad for the environment.

3. Keep Your Sidewalks Clear

Even if you are not ready to manage your whole yard it is important to try and keep your sidewalks clean. When wet leaves can be very slippery and may serve as a fall risk.

4. Use Leaves as Mulch

Instead of raking and packaging your leaves for the trash or your local leaf management program reuse your leaves to spruce up your own lawn and garden for the spring.  If you only have light leaf fall the leaves can be mowed and left in place. Leaves contain 50-80% of the nutrients a plant extracts from the soil making them a great resource.

You can also use the leaves as mulch in your garden and flower beds. Shredded leaves can be used as a mulch covering or can be mixed into soil.

5.  Add Leaves to Your Compost

Leaves can also be added to your compost pile. Large piles of leaves can take awhile to decompose so it is important to shred them first. If you do not have a compost pile already there are many videos and siteswith simple instructions to starting one.

6.  Get Crafty

Take a trip back to elementary school and make some fall inspired craft projects. Whether you make a wreath out of leaves or use them in a collage the options are as limitless as the leaves available in your yard.

Photo Credit: Maddie Perlman-Gabel

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Monday, January 7th, 2013 at 09:30
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