Sustainable Collingswood Blog

Leaf Mulch
November 13, 2018

LEAVE Those Leaves

In the coming months, autumn will see leaves and yard waste blown into streetside piles for curbside municipal collections. BUT…did you know that municipal leaf collection is intended as a last resort

That’s right: those looking for a perfectly-tailored lawn fertilizer are being offered a free, bottomless supply of nutrient-rich, organic bounty by your friendly neighborhood trees.  Left in shredded form (and combined with grass clippings), leaves will naturally decompose into a rich, synthetic chemical-free compost that winter snows will help integrate into your soil.  Use a bagging or mulching mower at a minimum deck height of 3”, and redistribute the goodness to your hungry lawn seedlings.  Backyard compost enthusiasts can take it a step further and spread some finished compost throughout the lawn, or one could visit local municipal facilities or retailers and obtain a generous supply of finished leaf compost for the same purpose.  Many stores offer rentals of rolling compost and mulch spreaders that can assist in evenly distributing the goodness.  It’s best to do this following soil raking.

Consider those fallen leaves as less of a burden and more as nature’s offering of organic gold.  Our local waterways will thank you for reducing the nutrient and sediment content from stormwater runoff.  Your neighbors will thank you for additional street parking and unhindered roadway passage in the fall and winter months.  Finally, your lawn will thank you with a lush, green expanse in the springtime, and your piggy bank will have a full belly to use toward more pressing domestic undertakings or some fun!   

If you absolutely must resort to chemical lawn treatments, employ organic alternatives. Low-/no-phosphorous blends are available at most retailers and online. Want to take stormwater runoff reduction a step further? You can install rain gardens, downspout planters, and similar stormwater infiltration methods that employ native vegetation to help prevent contamination of local waterways. One only needs to consider the environmental circumstances that necessitate the upcoming (and costly) Newton Lake dredge for further encouragement to consider a change. Simply put, what you put on your lawn ends up in our waterways! 

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