What do you do with all of those pesky leaves once you’ve raked them from your lawn? This situation creates a yearly dilemma for many people because yard waste, including autumn leaves, makes up for about 20 percent of what is dumped into our landfills. Tossing those leaves into the trash is not something that most homeowners wish to do. Some communities, mine included, allow homeowners to burn yard waste. This is neither a healthy or environmentally safe option. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Burning leaves and other yard wastes pollutes the air and can lead to uncontrolled fires. Leaf smoke can make breathing difficult for people who suffer from asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or allergies.”
Alternatively, some communities offer yard waste recycling, which is the best option, but it is not always ideal. In my own community, we are only permitted to put out two yard waste bags each week for pick up. We don’t have a forest of trees in our yard, but the few that we do have shed enough leaves to fill at least six or eight yard waste bags. The challenge is finding space in our garage to store the full bags until the next time yard waste is picked up.
Another way to recycle those fallen leaves is to compost them. Composting leaves, along with other yard waste and kitchen scraps, not only helps to get rid of a messy problem, but provides valuable mulch — for free — that can be used to cover and protect garden beds over the winter months. Many compost bins can be used year-round, too, so over the winter, you can “stock up” on mulch to use when spring comes around again.