Fall leaf clean-up
Here in Bay Village and Westlake, fall means dealing with leaves. We should all feel very lucky to have so many leaves to deal with, as that means we have big, beautiful trees that not only aid the health of us, wildlife and the planet, but greatly add to our property values.
Tree-lined streets are beautiful and desirable. Neighborhoods without large, overstory trees feel so … exposed and uninviting. At least in my opinion. But, all of our large trees means work in the fall … and again, this is not a bad thing! Yardwork is great exercise, gets us outside and breathing in the fresh, autumn air.
So, what is the best, most environmentally friendly way to deal with leaves? Use your (hopefully electric) mower and mulch them! I have been reading more and more articles talking about the benefits of doing this.
This method gets you out of raking – yay! A study by Michigan State University found that mulching leaves onto the lawn is 100% beneficial. The leaves will break down and be decomposed by earthworms, leaving organic matter that will be used as fertilizer by your grass.
There are no negative effects to mulching leaves on your lawn – it will have a negligible or beneficial effect. The one thing to look out for is for the leaf mulch to not be so thick it covers your grass – the grass must still be vertical and visible. If you have too many leaves to mulch into your yard, you can use some in your flower beds, garden, or compost pile.
Why do these things? Well, lawn health is one good reason. It is at best good for your lawn or at worst does nothing. Secondly, when we create self-sustaining yards (meaning waste is not being created for outside disposal) it is a much better system.
Currently in Bay Village, when leaves are raked to the tree lawn and then sucked up by the leaf truck, they are being composted at the facility on Bassett Road jointly operated with Westlake, so this is not a horrible option.
But please refrain from bagging your leaves and yard waste. Yard waste in bags and cans marked "yard waste only" is picked up by our trash hauler, Republic Services. As I write this article, bagged yard waste is still being composted (disposed of properly) but this is something that could change at any time as the compost facility used by Republic is running out of space.
This means there is a real threat that Bay Village's bagged yard waste will be put into the landfill. This is something we need to avoid at all costs. Yard waste should never be disposed of in a landfill.
So practice now by attempting to make your lawn as self-sustaining as possible. A self-sustaining lawn is good for everyone! If we were all able to accomplish this, then we would not need the big leaf trucks driving around, sucking up leaves, and burning grass and emitting CO2. This service is one we all pay for, and one day maybe we won’t need to.
To help your home become self-sustaining, start by mulching your leaves into your lawn!