Your fall leaves are a valuable resource that most homeowners let go to waste by having them blown into piles on the street, or left for town pickup costing municipal tax dollars. Often these vast piles spread out, washing into the storm drains and potentially clogging them.
Simply leaving the leaves in place both fights climate change and supports local biodiversity and beauty.
For information on maintaining Health Yards go here, including additional resources for leaf mulching.
Leaf Blower laws.
A growing number of municipalities in Westchester have strict regulations or outright bans on the use of gas powered leaf blowers. This is to minimize noise, protect soil health and air quality, and reduce emissions. Irvington has a schedule, required permits and a ban coming in 2023. See more on our Leaf Blower page here.
Three are many solutions to yard waste which will benefit the soil and ecosystem. The following descriptions are taken from the Recycle More Wisconsin website.
Grasscycling is leaving grass clippings on the lawn to decompose. Grass clippings are mostly water. When you mow regularly, clippings quickly decompose and release nutrients to fertilize the lawn. Research shows that when grass clippings are left on the lawn, one-third less fertilizer is needed to achieve the same color and grass density found on lawns where the clippings are removed.
Mulches help soil retain moisture, moderate temperature fluctuations, and reduce erosion and soil compaction. Yard wastes such as grass clippings, leaves, and chipped or shredded brush and branches can be used as organic mulches. Organic mulches are usually applied three inches deep over the soil and around plants to achieve the benefits of mulching.
Mulching Leaves in Place
Leaves are rich in carbon, phosphorus, and potassium - all essential nutrients needed by plants, including turf grasses. Simply mow leaves along with the grass during fall, and let the small leaf pieces filter down among the grass blades. Three to four passes may be required to chop leaves fine enough so that they filter through the turf and expose grass leaves to sunlight.
Composting is a natural recycling process that can be done at home with lawn and garden waste. Microorganisms from the soil interact with compost materials to help break down plant matter. Proper moisture, air, and temperature aid these microorganisms in their work. Finished compost is used as an organic plant food and soil amendment. For more information on Composting, go here.
Red worms live in the upper layer of the forest floor. These worms can turn food waste into nutrient-rich humus for gardens and houseplants. A mere tablespoon of worm castings provides enough organic plant nutrients to feed an eight inch potted plant for over two months. Use a worm composting bin or vermicomposting bin to make a valuable soil amendment out of things like: old newspapers, vegetable food scraps, trimmings from house plants and other organic materials that would normally be thrown away.
Links & References
More details and lots a useful reference links can be found on these pages:
Grasscycling (FAQ at LELENY.org)
Leaf Mulching (Love 'Em and Leave 'Em initiative)
Native Species (lists of preferred plants from Irvington Tree Commission)
Register your home at pollinator-pathway.org to join the Pollinator Pathway movement
Short YouTube Video Demonstration of Leaf Mulching Techniques for Professionals