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What to do With All Those Leaves





As I gaze with wonderment at the abundance of autumnal color splashed before me, leaves sprinkled with reds, greens, orange and purples, I say to myself, “Self, soon you’re going to have to pick up every single one of those infernal leaves.”

Help Wanted
With six trees and other assorted bushes dumping their leaves just in my back yard, there is a lot to pick up. I would love to hire one of our neighborhood’s hardworking, industrious youths to do the job—but since not one of them is either, I’m thinking I’m on my own here. When I was young we cut grass, shoveled snow and also picked up leaves for pay. Of course, that was a simpler time and we also walked to school: uphill both ways in the snow, but that’s fodder for a whole other column.

Burn Baby Burn
Okay, at the risk of seeming to be the “Get off of my lawn” type of old man I want to mention that in the good old days you could just torch that pile of leaves and be done with them. Sure, there was trade-offs: you didn’t have leaf blowers and had to rake the leaves into a pile, you were polluting the air around you and you risked burning down the whole neighborhood. Oh yeah, those were the days. Now, you have to dispose of them properly and that’s where the work comes in.

Chopping up the leaves and leaving them on the ground for compost is not only green and smart but easier than picking them all up. If you have a lawn mower that mulches that would be best. Actually, having a neighborhood kid with a lawn mower that mulches would be best, but don’t get me back on that rant. Mulching works great until the level of the leaves is higher than your mower. It’s fine to use your mower to mulch when your lawn is first covered, but once the level of leaves is high enough to bury lawn furniture as mine gets, it’s time to change tactics.

This Blows
We now all have leaf-blowers around here and the cacophony is sometimes unbearable. These things are louder than a jet engine and the pitch is even more annoying than a vacuum cleaner. They sure make it easier to gather the leaves in one spot though, at least easier than raking them all. Then, with a leaf blower you can switch a few parts around and it will then suck up the leaves and chop them up into a bag hanging around your shoulder. You then simply unzip the shoulder bag and dump it into a trash bag. Repeat this about seven-hundred and fifty four times and boom, you’re done.

Bag it Up
When we first moved into our home we bagged up over 50 trash bags of leaves. This is due to the fact that I didn’t have a leaf-blower to chop them up yet, and also the fact that the previous owner was a lazy old coot who left me with about three years’ worth of leaves to pick up. Now I’ll have you know, I m a hardworking old coot with a leaf-blower, so I now only fill about half that many bags. If you have flower beds or a garden it’s a good idea to lay some of these mulched up leaves around for compost. Hopefully they will break down during the winter and help nourish your soil. The mulch also provides a covering for your bulbs like a natural down comforter for plants.

Don’t Nourish the Landfill
Some communities these days pick up your bagged leaves for recycling. It is a good idea to find out if your community offers such a program and add your leaves instead of just nourishing the landfill. I have been told by a friend from Michigan that his hometown lets you just blow them into the street on a certain day and they send out a truck that sucks them up and takes them away. I tried that here but the truck never came; maybe I should have checked to see if they offer that first. Luckily the wind did come by, before the neighbors saw what I had done.

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