As the end of the season approaches, so does the peak of tree waste. The annual fall crunch is upon us, and whether you reside in the suburbs or rural areas, it’s time to think about how you’ll process your fallen maple, birch, elm, or oak leaves. You may be thinking: “I wonder if I can burn them?” Indeed, tradition has it that burning leaves is a great way to dispose of them. But as you well know – as an avid reader of this blog at least – everything comes with a cost. And when it comes to burning leaves as a method for disposal, the costs are significant. Toxins are released into the air when leaves are burned, which are harmful to our health and the environment. Here are seven tips on disposing/processing fall tree waste rather than burning it:
Don’t burn your leaves: Why you shouldn’t and why it’s bad for the environment
Burning leaves releases carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, which are detrimental to our health and environment. While these gases are present at low levels in our outdoor environment, burning leaves greatly increase their concentrations. Concentrations can rise to unhealthy levels, especially if a fire is left to smolder overnight. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even death. When levels of carbon monoxide are at their highest, people may experience flu-like symptoms. Individuals with pre-existing heart or lung diseases are especially at risk. Even high levels of carbon monoxide can hurt the environment. It can reduce the amount of oxygen available for aquatic life and cause soil erosion. High levels of nitrogen oxides are emitted from burning leaves and can react with other chemicals in the air to form ozone. Exposure to high levels of ozone can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pains. It is especially harmful to people with asthma or other respiratory diseases.
Don’t throw them in the trash: Why that’s bad for the environment and you
While you might think that throwing leaves in the trash is an easy and convenient way to get rid of them, this is not a recommended disposal method. Leaves contain high amounts of water, which means they can weigh down your trash can. They'll rot and stink eventually, causing your can to overflow or, worse, attracting pests. Leaves also clog your home’s pipes, increasing the risk of a clog or backup. This problem is especially common in the fall when leaves are falling and homeowners are cleaning out their gutters. If a clog occurs, you could end up with a very costly plumbing bill. Even worse, it could cause the pipes to burst, sending contaminated water throughout your home.
Composting is a great way to use up your leaves
Composting is a great way to use up leaves. It’s a great way to recycle leaves that would otherwise be sent to the landfill. It’s also a great way to create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. When you compost leaves, they break down into a nutrient-rich, soil-like substance called “black gold.” Compost can be used to enrich the soil in your garden, for potted plants, for seedlings, or even as fertilizer for your houseplants. Composting leaves is easy to do, and the process only takes about a month. Once the leaves are ready to use, you can either add them to your garden soil or use them as fertilizer for houseplants.
Mulching is a great way to prevent excess leaf waste
Mulching is another great way to prevent excess leaf waste. It’s easy to do, and it’s a great way to reduce the amount of yard waste that you send to the landfill each year. All you need to do is collect your leaves, and then chop them up into small pieces. You can use an old lawn mower to chop up the leaves, or you can use a hatchet or a lawn mower. Once they’re chopped up, you can use them to cover the soil around plants. As the leaves decompose, they’ll add nutrients to the soil, preventing weeds from growing. If you decide to mulch your garden, you may want to consider using biodegradable mulch. Biodegradable mulch will break down over time, providing your plants with the nutrients they need without becoming an eyesore in your garden.
Leaf Blower or Vacuum
Another way to get rid of your leaves is to collect them with a leaf blower or a vacuum. While this method is more time-consuming, it’s great if you have a large backyard or live in an area where leaves fall in abundance. If you decide to vacuum your leaves, make sure to create a pile and then vacuum it up once you’ve collected enough leaves. This will prevent you from taking too long to clean up the yard. If you want to use a leaf blower, make sure to use it in the direction of the ground. This will prevent the leaves from floating back up into the air, and it will also help with cleanup. Simply toss the leaves into a pile, and then vacuum them up once you’re done.
Mow Your Leaves To Shreds
Having a yard full of leaves will cause them to pile up and become a nuisance. Instead of having to rake up the leaves and dispose of them, you can mow them. Mowing is an excellent way to prevent your yard from becoming overgrown with leaves. When you mow, you are shredding the leaves so that they can become mulch for your plants and grass to grow in. Because mulching keeps the ground root-free, it also prevents weeds from sprouting in the area. Mulching with shredded leaves will also keep your lawn healthy by keeping the soil cool and moist. The shredded leaves will act as insulation, allowing your grass to remain cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Shredded leaves (for example, pine needles) can be used to cover bare soil around plants such as trees or shrubs, or areas where the grass is grown (for example, flower beds). It helps maintain soil moisture, suppresses weeds, retains soil nutrients, and deters erosion. Pro tip- only mow leaves and your lawn when it's DRY.
Use the Right Tools
As you work to process your fallen leaves, make sure to use the right tools. This will make the process quicker, easier, and more efficient. If you’re collecting leaves with a vacuum, make sure to buy a high-quality vacuum with a large capacity. This will allow you to collect more leaves at once, which will save you time and effort. If you’re using a lawn mower to chop up leaves, make sure to buy a quality lawn mower. Cheap lawnmowers will break down quickly and make the job more difficult. If you’re using a leaf blower, make sure to buy a high-quality blower. Cheap blowers will break down quickly and make the job more difficult.
Now is the time to process your leaves before they fully decompose. Once they’re completely decomposed, you’ll have to use a shovel to collect them. You can compost the leaves, use them as mulch around your flower beds, or use them to create a natural fertilizer for your indoor plants. You can also collect leaves with a mower leaf collection service, or clean up your yard with a vacuum or a leaf blower. You can also use the right tools to make the job easier and more efficient. Whatever method you choose to process your fallen leaves, make sure to do it before fall ends and winter approaches.