How to Dispose of Leaves in the Fall
Fall, especially fall in Utah, is magical. The crisp air, the explosion of color from all the changing leaves. It’s all quite beautiful. Well, up until all those leaves come off the trees and land in your yard. Then it’s more exasperating than breathtaking as you have to decide how to dispose of leaves. There are a lot of different ways to discard fall leaves, and some are definitely better than others. We’re here to help with some dos and don’ts regarding what to do with leaves in the yard.
Don’t Do This…
Back in the day, there was a trend to bag up all of the leaves in the yard and put them in a garbage sack with a picture of a jack-o-lantern or ghost on it. It was sort of a yard waste turned yard decor situation. As a seven-year-old, it was a fun game to spot the bags throughout the neighborhood. As an adult, I realize these decorations were more likely the result of a collection of homeowners who didn’t know what to do with bagged leaves.
If you too are at a loss for how to dispose of leaves, may we suggest you avoid using them as yard art? (But hey, you do you.) If your goal is to discard fall leaves, here are some other things you shouldn’t do:
Don’t Put Them Out With the Trash
There are a couple of reasons why this is a possible leaf disposal no-no. First of all, many municipalities don’t allow this. Some have special yard waste disposal days or specific requirements (like using paper yard waste bags) when it comes to leaves. If this is your preferred method to get rid of your fallen leaves, check your local restrictions before lugging everything to the curb.
Rules and regulations are just one reason you should think twice before kicking your leaves to the curb. Leaves make great fertilizer for trees and plants. Putting them in plastic bags and sending them to a landfill keeps them from doing what they’re best at, plus it unnecessarily takes up valuable space in a dump.
Don’t Do Nothing
Don’t let indecision about what to do with leaves in the yard lead you to do nothing. Because leaves are good at biodegrading, it might be ok to leave them in your greenery beds for a season. But year after year, doing nothing will prevent them from properly breaking down. This will leave you (no pun intended) with an unwanted build-up that is a welcome home for insects, rodents, pests, fungi, and disease.
Don’t Burn Them
Dry leaves burn easily, which is why it can be one of the more tempting leaf disposal ideas. Burning yard waste is illegal in many areas, and for good reason. These types of open fires can easily get out of hand. It’s not worth risking your house, and the whole neighborhood going up in flames just to get rid of your leaf pile. Burning leaves can also cause respiratory problems, so it’s best not to go this route.
Don’t Gift Them to Your Neighbor
This one can be filed under an alternate title of “Don’t Be a Jerk.” Sneakily pushing your leaves into your neighbor’s yard just isn’t nice. Plus, you never know when karma will come back to get you with a windstorm that lands your leaves AND theirs in your yard. Be a good neighbor and take care of your yard the right way.
Don’t Dump Them Down a Hill
If you live at the edge of a hill or ravine, it can be tempting to throw the leaves out into the void. This is a bad idea for a lot of reasons, but a big one is that it can lead to destabilizing the slope. This can make the hillside dangerous for people and animals.
8 Clever Ways To Get Rid Of Your Leaves In The Fall
Now that you know a few ways not to dispose of fall leaves, let’s talk about how to get rid of leaves the right way. The method you choose really depends on your level of gardening experience and the look you’re going for in your yard.
Mow Leaves Into Your Yard
If you want an easy way to feed your lawn while discarding fall leaves at the same time, take the bag off of your mower and give your lawn a once-over. The lawnmower will shred the leaves nicely and give your lawn some added nutrients through the winter.
No matter how much you try, leaves only squish down so much before they spring back. Mulching leaves into smaller pieces is a great space saver, plus it affords you more options on what to do with the yard waste.
If you’re already into composting, and you have the space in your yard, feel free to throw your leaves in the pile. The dead leaves break down very nicely, but you will need a big enough compost pile to be able to handle it.
Create Leaf Mold
Even if you don’t have a compost pile, you can still get more from your leaves by creating leaf mold. A leaf mold is different from a compost pile in that it only contains leaves. Leaf mold is just that…mold that comes from decomposing leaves. There are a few different ways to create leaf mold, and the benefit is that you end up with some rich nutrients that can be used in your yard.
Participate in Your City’s Leaf Pickup
Check to see if your municipality offers a leaf pickup program. Many places have ways to dispose of leaves through designated pick-up days. It’s important to check your local regulations to find out the schedule and requirements. Some places have you get them to the curb so they can vacuum them up, others want them in clear bags, others in paper bags. Your city’s website should have more information about this.
Rake Leaves Into a Tarp
We often think of bagging leaves, but have you ever tried raking them onto a tarp and then disposing of them that way? The tarp can then easily be moved onto a trailer or moved around your yard to take the leaves to their final destination.
Take Leaves to the Dump
We know we said earlier NOT to discard fall leaves in the dump, but hear us out on this one. Many areas have special programs to accept yard waste, especially leaves, in the fall where they will take the leaves and compost them for you. This allows you to do the most good for the environment with the least amount of effort. Check with your local dump to see if they have a seasonal program.
Use a Yard Vac
The beauty of yard vacs is that they don’t just suck leaves up, they also shred them as you go. That means you can vacuum your whole yard and only change the bag out a couple of times. Plus the yard waste you’re left with is ready to be added to a mulch pile or quickly disposed of.
We Know You’ll “Fall” For Our Landscaping Services
If the falling leaves in your yard have started stressing you out, give Big Rock Landscaping a call. We can tackle your leaves and help you work through all of your yard maintenance needs. Our landscaping services for residential and commercial properties in Utah and the Intermountain West help you create and maintain the backyard of your dreams through every season of the year.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with a plan throughout the year.