Stop Bagging Your Leaves and Make Compost Instead

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Yard trimmings, which include grass, leaves and tree and brush trimmings, accounted for 34.7 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2015, which is 13.3% of total MSW
  • Fallen leaves act as a natural mulch that will break down and fertilize the soil while helping to keep weeds in check
  • While it’s true that a thick layer of leaves can smother your lawn, this is easily remedied by running over them with your lawn mower to create mulch
  • Turtles, toads, birds and mammals such as bats use leaf litter for food, shelter and nesting material; insects, including moth and butterfly caterpillars, also rely on leaf litter to overwinter
  • If you have a compost pile or bin, fallen leaves are a welcome addition and act as “brown material” that should form the bulk of the compost
  • When shredded into small pieces and left on the lawn, different leaf types offer different benefits; maple leaves reduce weed seed germination while honey locust leaves are known for adding nitrogen

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