In my part of the world, autumn is a time for nature to display her beauty in all it’s glory. Most of the color comes from the leaves on the trees as they turn color and eventually fall gently down to Earth.
Once on my lawn, they no longer are so beautiful. They become a source of weekend work for my family and I. Eventually, the discussion turns to what exactly are we going to do with all these leaves? There are really only three choices:
You can bag up the leaves. You can mulch them (either in place or in a compost bin), or you can burn them.
Let’s take a look at each of the options available:
You Can Mulch The Leaves
When I talk about “mulching”, I’m talking about shredding your leaves and either leaving them on your lawn or mixing them into your compost pile or garden. While not the same disposal method, both end up requiring you to either shred with a lawnmower or mulch with a leaf blower capable of vacuum mulching. The end goal is the same – the leaves and nutrients work back into the ground over time to keep the cycle of life turning.
You Can Bag The Leaves
Maybe seeing dead leaves on your lawn isn’t your idea of fall fun. If that’s the case, bagging up the leaves is your next choice. Depending on where you live, you may be required to use certain styles of bags to pack the leaves into. The local government may come by and pick up your bags; otherwise you may have to deliver them to the town dump. You might even live in an area where leaves are picked up curbside with no bags – if so, you are just responsible for getting the leaves to the street right before pickup day.
I’ve helped do this numerous times both as a kid and as an adult. It can really save time if you begin by laying a tarp down on the grass. Gather all the leaves onto the tarp, and you can easily move the failed foilage around the yard. Get the best leaf blower you can to push the leaves toward the tarp. You can also use the tarp to help make a homemade “leaf funnel” to get them into the bags.
You Can Burn The Leaves
In some areas, you can legally burn leaves. I happen to live in one of those areas that was rural 30 years ago but now is mostly residential. It blows the minds of people moving here from urban areas that their neighbor can pack leaves into a burn barrel on a Saturday morning and smoke up the neighborhood, but that’s the law. This might not be an option in the area you live – check your local ordinances for more information.
You’ll need to pick an area that is free from tree-overhangs and away from anything combustible. A fire pit is a good choice, though some people use burn barrels designed just for this purpose. Try to pick an area protected from the wind, and make sure you have water standing by in case something goes wrong. Leaves do sometimes fly out of the fire while in-flames, which can lead to interesting burn marks around the yard.
If you do burn leaves, you need to tend to the fire. Don’t throw all of your leaves in at once and walk away. You’ll get incomplete combustion, and the amount of smoke you’ll produce will turn your neighbors into enemies quickly. Likewise, pick a day that isn’t super-windy. It’ll be easier to control the fire and you will be less likely to push all your smoke into your neighbor’s yard and house. Do this enough times and you will have neighbor problems.
Best Choice For The Person Who…
Not everyone is the same. Just because I favor mulching in-place doesn’t mean that would work for you. I cherish my free-time above most other things. For others, a sense of order is more important. Or, you may just like lighting things on fire. I’m not here to judge.
Here’s some suggestions based on your personality or life situation:
Are you a neat-freak? You need to bag your leaves.
Are you living extremely close to your neighbors? You probably should bag, or mulch – depending on how many trees they have on their properties.
Do you live in the country, or have acres between you and your nearest neighbor? You can probably burn your leaves – or leave them in place.
Do you only have a few trees in your yard? You can probably mulch in-place – you won’t have much risk of hurting your grass by smothering it.
Do you have many trees in your yard? This might mean bagging or burning – you can run a risk of damaging your grass if the leaves get matted down and prevent the sun and rain from reaching the roots.
I hope this article was helpful. If you have any additional solutions, or wish to add your own pros and cons please leave them below in the comments.