There’s nothing quite like the sight of colorful leaves in the fall. But what do you do when they’ve all fallen and you have a mess in your yard? Winter is fast approaching, so it’s time to get rid of the leaves before the snow comes. But how can you do it safely (and legally)? Here’s what you need to know.
CAN I BURN THE LEAVES?
While many local authorities ban leaves and other garden clippings from landfills, you may be tempted to burn the leaves in your yard. However, leaf burning becomes a fire hazard that can lead to air pollution and health problems. Burning leaves is not recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ̵1; nor is it legal in most states. The open burning of leaves produces toxic compounds such as carbon monoxide.
CAN I PUT THE LEAVES IN GARBAGE BAGS?
If you have a lot of time and a strong back (who has either, right?), bagging leaves is an option. But remember that sticks, stones, cones, limbs and other debris should not be mixed with loose leaves. Also, check with your municipality or municipality to see what weight limit or bag color has been set for leaf-filled bags, if any, and then, when they’re ready to go, place them curbside on your regular garbage collection day or as directed.
WHAT IS COMPOSTING AND HOW CAN I DO IT?
Composting is an environmentally friendly form of recycling that helps the soil retain moisture and nutrients and increase fertility. When leaves are composted along with nitrogen-filled grass clippings, the resulting compost becomes organic fertilizer or mulch for flower beds, gardens or around shrubs. The EPA website offers a free detailed guide on how to create your own compost pile in your backyard. The most important thing to note is what can and cannot be composted. Stay away from meat scraps and bones – they can attract pests.
Here are some different ways to compost:
- Make your own compost bin. This is a simple and cost-effective way to make a difference for the good of the environment.
- Composting is a great way to add nutrients to your garden and use these leaves in nature’s cycle. You can use a wood chipper to turn clean leaves or brush into compost.
- Find out if your community offers leaf collection or wood waste removal. Laws for leaf litter vary depending on where you live. Visit your city’s website or call your local Public Works Department for more information.
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