If I could, I’d have all of the leaves fall directly from the trees onto the barn floor. They make good bedding for the goats. Or, maybe they could all just blow into my garden. Next year’s soil would be black and rich and full of earthworms! But, you know what bugs me? Seeing bags of leaves set out for the trash man to take to the dump. So, today, I’m going to make some strong suggestions about how you can use them, thus sparing the dump of yet another plastic bag.
It has often befuddled me that people will take hours to rake the leaves in their yards into neat piles, then awkwardly shove them into large black plastic trash bags, close them with a twist tie and push, pull, roll or carry them to their temporary new home by the trash can, and anxiously await trash day so this year’s reminder of fall can be hauled off to the dump. I never cease wondering why people do that! Leaves are fall’s way of giving us a yearly gift of free mulch and exceptional compost, but for many, they have become the yearly after-your-favorite-football-game chore. Instead of things of beauty, the trees in our yards have become a nuisance just begging to be chopped down so that we’ll never have to rake again. They, in our manicured landscapes, are no longer dropping their fall leaves to become a protective blanket for the soil and it’s micro and macro organisms and beginning the yearly process of decomposition to feed the soil, but are dropping them only to be trucked off to improve the soil at the dump. If things other than plastic bags grew at the dump, I might be in support of the idea, but they don’t. Nothing grows at the dump, except odor, so keep your leaves at home.
I get it, though. Depending on the amount of trees in your yard, raking leaves is a time consuming, tiring process – and especially frustrating if you do it when the wind is blowing. It’s a chore I don’t always look forward to either, but if you’re going to spend so much time and energy cleaning them up, why not keep the bags out of the dump and put the leaves to a good purpose in your yard.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Rake them all directly into your perennial flower bed. Step on them so they’ll bed down and have less risk of blowing away.
2. Leave them under the tree that dropped them. That’s what happens in nature.
3. Put them all right on top of your vegetable garden. Step on them so they’ll bed down as in #1. In the spring, mix them in with your dirt.
4. Pile them up in a back corner of your yard. Cover them with branches so they’ll stay there. In the spring, remove the branches and spread the broken down leaves around your outdoor plants.
5. Find a neighbor who wants them.
6. Stuff a scarecrow with them.
7. Use them as bedding for your chicken’s nest boxes.
8. Use them for bedding for your goats!
If you can’t commit to keep ALL of your leaves this year, start small. Instead of sending 10 bags to the dump, send 8. Keep the other two bags worth of leaves to use in your yard. If you’re ready to keep them all, go for it! Your yard will love you forever.
-The Goat Cheese Lady