I live in the Boston area and I have about 5 oak trees and two pines.
I get a lot of leaves and I recently contracted a guy to move all of
the leaves to the rear corner of the yard. $300 for probably 1/2 day
work. Everything is expensive in the Boston area. Anyway, it would be
very costly to have the leaves carted off to the dump. The yard slopes
away form the house and it would be cost a lot more to remove the
I would like to add something like lime to speed up the decompostion.
Is this a good plan? Is there any other beter way to speed up the
proceess. There will be a huge pile of leaves and it builds up every
Unless he's renting some fairly pricy equipment, it's probably cheaper to
hire a plumber or electrician to do that work.
$300 / 4hrs = $75/hr
I couldn't see paying more then $15/hr for this kind of work. You can add
nitrogen to speed up the decomposition, a 50 lb bag of blood meal out in
California is about $30. Sprinkle a bit on the pile as you add new leaves.
If you're paying someone $300 to pile up the leaves, I can't help but wonder
what you intend to do with the compost afterwards, which will be a mound
about 1/4 - 1/3 the size of the original pile. Somehow you'll need to spread
that back out.
How can someone who has to support a family live on $15.00/hr ?
The landscaper says he will do more than cleaning leaves. He is also
going to do trimming. I guess its not worth it for him to cart all his
equiptment to my property without making a days pay. I realize this
is unskilled labor, but I hate spending weekend after weekend raking
and blowing leaves.
Also, I recently met with an accident in my yard using a Sears
Craftsman gas powered mulcher. The leaves gathered around the muffler
and the thing burst into flames. Total loss.
Therefore, for $300 someone else can do this work in a short time.
We'll see how it coems out. I will post after Wednesday and report on
how the job came out.
I know this is off topic, but most people around here work for less
than half that - assistant managers make $7and change... and a lot of
people work 2 jobs to make ends meet on less than half that. I know
cost of living is more in Boston, but not by that much...
But does that $7/hour include an allowance for them to buy their own tools
and supplies? Do they contribute some of that money to marketing expenses?
Do they spend time off the clock doing things that can't be billed directly
to customers? Do they chip in for the business's expenses? Do they pay both
the employee and employer share of taxes out of that? Do they pay their own
workers comp insurance? Do they pay for liability insurance and bonding? Do
they pay licensing fees, and small business taxes out of that $7/hour? Do
they not have any other benefits that they don't have to buy out of that
$7/hour? Or is that simply what shows on their paycheck before taxes, but
after all of their employer's expenses?
And does it really provide a working-class living, or are they constantly
going further and further into debt?
If the goal of a self-employed person is to bill $15/hour, they'd be better
off taking a minimum wage job even if their business doesn't require any
$300? You're getting........overcharged. I live south of Boston and
prices aren't that bad!
The best way would be to run the lawnmower over them to chop them up
and then turn them over every once in awhile, that'll speed up the
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
A powerful backpack blower can do job easily. You can get a new blower
for about $400 (don't go cheap here). You need a 5HP shredder, ear
protection and a dust mask too. Heap the ground up leaves into a pile
near your garden. Mix in some green lawn clippings. Next year you'll
have black gold. I have 150 trees and can move all the leaves into a
pile in about 3 hours. Using just a rake is a 2-day job.
The cost is high because he is going to do additional trimming of
bushes. This is the third time that I have had my yard cleaned by
various people and ther price has always been high. It is a tough
yard, 1/4 acre of leaves and pine needles. and it slopes in the back.
Takes me weeks to clean this yard. I'm thinking it is a good time to
get rid of the trees. That's another big expense.
There are several things that you can do to speed up the composting
process. I list them in the order of effectiveness.
1. Chop the leaves into smaller pieces with a lawn mower or other
2. Turn the pile periodically. I use a compost thermometer to
monitor the internal temperature and when it starts to drop I turn the
pile. This turns whole leaves into compost in one year.
3. Adding lime will reduce the natural acidity of oak leaves and pine
needles to the benefit of the bacteria that are doing the composting
Who makes 50 yards of compost from leaves and grass clippings every
Add in some soil while you are turning. This will provide the needed
bacteria. Adding a little bit of fertilizer helps, but isn't
necessary. Also, just be patient. When the temp increases, the
decomposition will proceed quickly.
We also, use the leaf pile to composte vegetable cooking waste and
coffee grounds. The result is used in planting the gardens. It has a
high water-holding ability.
Here's how you get rid of the leaves for under $10: Whip out your favorite
word processor / sign making software, make a sign "free composted manure,
e-mail for details". Casually head up (down?) to Harvard University and
post up the signs, probably around coffee shops is better. You will also
want to have a real bag of manure to give away so you can pass any sham
ethics inquiry into your little bait and switch. (Do not bring the manure
into the coffee shop). Then wait for some poor academics like this guy to
take your bait:
"... And a week after that, in Rockport, Mass., a chaired professor of
economics at Harvard, Martin Weitzman, was charged with larceny after a
farmer said Weitzman has long been trespassing and hauling away manure for
his own nearby farm, thus denying the farmer his market price of $35 per
truckload. [New York Post, 4-6-05] [Boston Herald, 4-6-05]"
Sounds just like my yard...five oak trees and two pines on a little
less than a quarter acre!
Fortunately my yard slopes steeply toward the street, and our town
collects leaves at the curb for recycling...so the front is relatively
easy. More than half our leaves get picked up by the town. The rest we
grind up in an electric leaf mulcher, which grinds the leaves into fine
pieces. We use some of this to mulch the garden beds and rhododendrons,
and put the rest in a compost bin or off in the back of the yard where
they can decompose on their own. Once the leaves are ground up, they
turn into compost relatively quickly...we use the compost from the
previous year to top-dress the soil in the fall (before putting on the
So far this has worked pretty well, although it is A LOT of work doing
it ourselves, and I imagine our soil is quite acidic. We just look for
plants that like shade and acidic soil conditions for our garden.
Someone mentioned adding soil to the compost pile to speed up the
process...I think that is very important. Anything 'green' helps as
well...kitchen scraps, a few grass clippings, etc.
Hope this helps...good luck!
After reading various replies in this thread, here are a few
Oak leafmold is far superior to compost for growing camellias,
azaleas, rhododendrons, and other acid-loving plants.
Commerically, it sells for more than compost.
Don't add lime. Just add nitrogen. Stir on occasion to bring
fresh oxygen into the center of the pile. Make sure it stays moist
without being soggy. It may take longer to become usable than
regular compost. (My compost pile is mostly leafmold. It's about
1/3 oak with more than half the leaves from my ash tree.)
If the pile is large enough, chopping is not necessary. But
stirring is mandatory. As decomposing progresses, stirring will
not only bring oxygen into the pile but will also break up the
After you spread the composted leafmold around your garden, then
you can add a little lime if your soil is already acidic. (My soil
is sufficiently alkaline that I keep using soil sulfur and
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
Use any off-brand generic lawn fertilizer that DOES NOT contain
weed killer. Or get a small bag of urea (sometimes rated 50-0-0)
and use very sparingly.
If you prefer something "organic" (although any chemist will tell
you urea is organic), use blood meal; but then stir immediately to
prevent it from attracting flies, dogs, or cats. Or you can use
guano (bat, chicken, or seabird). Manure is generally too weak in
nutrients to help.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
Thank you all for your help. Will these fertilizers cause the leaves
to disintegrate quickly?
Also, it seems to me that keeping the leaves on my property is the
"right" thing to do since the trees take a lot out of the soil.
My neighbors bag their leaves and throw them in the town dump.
I used to do that but it is a tremendous amount of work.
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