Fall is here. The air is crisp, the apples are fresh and the leaves are putting on a show turning brilliant shades of orange and red! For some, it means enjoying the beauty of nature. For others, it means one thing- picking up those leaves. But what to do with all those leaves? We’ve got you covered.

 Leaves

paper_bags

The first task is to gather the leaves in piles for easier pickup. This can be done using a rake, leaf blower or using a side discharge lawnmower to blow the leaves into a pile (this also helps to break down the leaves and compacts them). Want to take a break? Go ahead, but big leaf piles make for hours of fun for kids both young and old to play in. When they’re done playing, have them lend a hand for pickup.

Municipalities handle leaf recycling across Hudson County. Typically, leaves should be gathered and placed into paper Leaf Recycling bags for pickup. Check with your municipality or download the Recycle Coach App for more information. Given that leaves are an organic material, they should not be placed out for regular garbage pickup- they unnecessarily clog up landfills. Also, a common sense tip- leaves should never be burned. Leaf burning is both a fire hazard and air pollutant!

Lawn

Leaves also make for great compost for lawns and gardens. For lawns, homeowners with a mulching mower can mulch the leaves which provide an organic fertilizer for your lawn. Once broken down by a lawnmower, leaves quickly decompose and nourish the lawn. It may take multiple passes with the mower to break the leaves down but experts suggest that the leaves should be broken down to almost the size of long-grain rice. You just helped yourself and helped your lawn!

 Compost Bin

For those of you who have a compost bin, now is the time to fill the bins up to make some nutrient-rich humus for your lawns, plants and gardens! Leaves from trees such as Maple, Birch, Ash, Beech as well as fruit tree leaves are loaded with nutrients for composting. Leaves from Oak trees should be composted in moderation as they tend to be more acidic which leads to humus that is not as friendly to vegetable plants. Remember, chopping down the leaves helps to compact them and also helps to speed up the decomposition process. Whole leaves left in a pile can become wet and bind together, leading to a soggy and matted mess which take longer to break down.

No compost bin? No problem. (Although if you are interested in purchasing a compost bin, look for the HCIA’s compost bin and rain barrel sales in the Spring 2018!) Leaves, along with other organic materials such as grass clippings, provide great nourishment for flower and vegetable gardens over the winter. Grass clippings help to speed the decomposition process by adding a good source of Nitrogen to the leaf pile. This author (and home gardener) closes up his garden for the season with a healthy layer of chopped up leaves and grass clippings and then adds used coffee grinds throughout the winter. The used coffee grinds add Nitrogen, Magnesium and Potassium to your compost. Experts warn against using “non-brewed” coffee grounds which are highly acidic. (Not to brag, but check out some of those vegetables!)

 

Before we leave, a few helpful tips on leaves. (Cue laughter). First, leaves should be removed from gutters and downspouts. Wet leaves make for a clumpy mess which can clog gutters and keep rainwater from draining. In addition, once it gets cold and the wet leaves freeze, conditions such as ice damming can cause havoc to homeowners. There are several different ways to clean out gutters, however, we urge everyone to use caution. If you are not comfortable being on a ladder to clean out your gutters, hire a professional. Safety first! Don’t take a fall in the Fall!

Well, we have to leave you for now- but til next time, have a Happy Fall!