Monday, November 28, 2011

Leaving the Leaves

Did you know that there's a campaign underway to get us to stop raking up our leaves?  Rather, we're being encouraged to grind them into a finer mulch, or even just leave them where they are.  Ground up leaves that are mulched by a lawnmower are quicker to break down. They do wonders for the soil, adding organic matter, and helping replace what's lost through erosion. When left in garden beds, they protect roots and help retain moisture.

If enough people comply, municipalities will spend less time collecting and processing leaves, which saves them money.  See the video below that features Ann Holmes from the Greenburgh Nature Center in Westchester County.

With more than 50 trees on our property, the leaves piled up fast.  You can see that where the lawn ends, and the tree line begins, the leaves are at least a foot deep.

Here are some things I'm trying with my leaves this year...

The leaves are not being raked out of the beds until spring.  They're being left in place to protect the plants from winter abuse. 
They're just being left on the floor of the wooded areas.

We've created a pile behind the compost bin that we'll use to "feed" the compost throughout the year.  After food scraps or grass clippings are added to the bin, we'll throw in a few handfuls of leaves for good measure. 

The leaves on the lawn are being mowed over and ground up, then collected to be worked into the vegetable beds.

They're also being used in combination with wood shavings as litter in the chicken coops.  I think I'll try to use the ground up ones here in the future.

What do you do with your leaves?


Veggie PAK said...

I mow them up and they go right to the compost pile!

Wendy McDonagh-Valentine said...

I love this campaign!! Our grass comes up thicker in the spring when we leave the leaves and our son loves this idea because it's one less chore for him to do!! : )

~ Wendy

Dave@TheHomeGarden said...

Sounds like some good ideas to me! I use them as a mulch after they go through the bagger mower or add them to the compost bin. I'm always wishing I had more!

Pam J. said...

I also love the no-rake campaign, especially if it removes some of those godawful leaf blowers from the planet (apologies to anyone who uses one but the sound makes the inside of my head hurt SO much; a friend gave me a good tip: say 'ooommmm' while listening to a leaf blower. it tends to soften the annoying sound). We rake and compost and toss many leaves onto flower beds like a nice winter quilt.

Isn't fall a pretty season? It doesn't get the respect it deserves!
FB note to Jen: search for Pamela Winters Jones. I think there's only one of me. I occupy a very small place on FB but I AM there.

the home tome said...

THANK YOU! You just made us feel a lot better about the current state of our lawn! Right now, most leaves are exactly where the trees dropped them. We are going to try this mysterious mulching thing of which you speak...

TALON said...

Our city does a leaf collection for a giant compost which everyone can access. If you're really lazy and don't want to bag them up for collection, you can just rake them to the curb for pick-up. They send a front-end loader and a dump truck and make short work of all the streets. I keep a thick layer of leaves on all my beds - they make a super mulch.

Joanne said...

We mow some and if they're really heavy, bag some. We also put a layer over our veggie garden plot. It seems to help keep the soil softer for tilling in the Spring.

David said...

I use most of my leaves in the compost bin except for the Nuttall Oak leaves. These are so decorative that I use them on the paths. I'll be using last year's leaf mold in the chicken coop where it will get enriched. Then it will be put around bushes and maybe the lawn. In February, I collect the neighbor's live oak leaves that they put by the street. These are the best! I use them in my greenhouse and on paths.

50 trees on your property! My o my!
I have 12 and that's plenty. David/ :-)

k said...

The leaves got left last year because I wasn't around to nag. Nothing bad seems to have happened, so I decided to ignore them again this year.
They're building up around the ramp to my front door. I was going to clean them up there, at least, but I think I'll leave them for insulation for the bunny that hangs out there.
TALON talks about raking leaves to the curb. The last winter I was in Minneapolis, everybody had done that, and then we got thirty inches of snow. That night. Streets didn't clear till March.

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

That is a good idea using the mower to crush the leaves when no mulcher is available. We use them as mulch now as the weather is getting warmer here.