An eco-friendly way of dealing with fall leaves

Four years ago I moved from the big city to five acres in the country. I soon discovered that many country folk have a nasty fall habit: they burn their leaves. At least in this part of the country it seems to be the universal method for fall yard maintenance. Given the current state of climate change burning leaves is a real no-no. As an avid gardener I’ve always made it a point to compost leaves so that all that organic matter is returned to the soil which completes the natural cycle.

Here is a tip for more easily managing fall leaves that is based on moving them rather than burning them. If you’ve got a big yard in a rural setting chances are you have a place where you can store a big pile of leaves for the winter so that they have a chance to decompose and not be in your way. The method is simple and requires a tarp and a rake. If you’ve got two people a bigger tarp will work better. Simply lay the tarp down and rake the leaves onto it. When you’ve got a huge pile fold the tarp over forming a big leaf taco and drag it to your compost or out of the way area. Repeat until finished. That’s it. You’ll get some exercise and will add zero emissions to the atmosphere.

Using this method is as fast as burning and much faster than bagging leaves or raking them into a wheel barrow. It may not be as fast as one of those fancy lawnmower-based leaf mulcher/vacuums but it produces zero pollution. Gas mowers are terribly inefficient at burning gas and produce gobs of CO2 (Carbon dioxide), much more than a car, because they do nothing with the emissions produced… they just spit it all out. So the gas mower/vacuum method should be avoided.

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2 Comment

  1. freebox says:

    It’s been my discovery that raking leaves is a waste of time, at least in Portland. There’s no point in doing it here…or rather you can take the Daoist approach, which is non-action. If you can wait a week or so, the raging winds come out of the Columbia Gorge and blow them all away.

  2. We have leaf pick up in our town. You put the leaves at the curb and a big truck with a vacuum-cleaner-like hose comes by and sucks them up! Weekly. I compost ours – great for the veggies the following summer. Burning just doesn’t make sense.

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