You'd think so, the way homeowners/landscapers run around with leaf blowers
getting rid of every single last one of them.
Is eliminating leaves that important?
What would happen if people *didn't* blow every leaf off their property?
What I find strange is that people will blow leaves off of bare dirt --
seems to me you'd WANT leaves covering soil.
http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/46613.html says that shredding leaves and
covering the lawn with them is a good thing.
Basically anything you do with leaves except burn them is OK -- leaves
collected by landscapers eventually get composted by the municipality -- I
Personally, I think my neighbors are just a little to fanatic with this leaf
blowing thing -- jmo.
If leaves were toxic everyone on earth would be dead by now.
When you start feeling ill, stop eating them.
I personally like leaves on my property and only remove them
when they are in a specific place where they cover something
someone could trip over. Use your best judgment.
Laugh at your neighbors when they seem obsessed with removing
every single leaf. Don't let it bother you.
The same compulsive neatness and waste of effort is involved in having
"beautiful" lawns, in fact the two often go together as for ultimate
"beauty" you don't want leaves obscuring your lawn. So many high-resource
lawns aren't even used for play, oh no this might produce wear spots, they
are just there to admire. Such madness is taken to the extreme when the
compulsive leaf blowing lawn trimmer sends the debris to land fill.
First priority is to use autumn leaves to mulch my beds. After making a
layer about 3" thick, I lay out small branches to hold the leaves in
place. Around my oak, I actually anchored chicken wire to hold the mulch.
Next priority is to add them to my compost pile, which is more leaf mold
than compost. It has a large amount of oak leaves, which make a great
In the end -- generally when my ash tree starts to drop its leaves --
they go in a bin for our county's composting program. Since the leaves
often exceed the capacity of the bin, I make piles of them on the patio
and back walkways.
No, I don't have a blower. I use a lawn rake. I just had my back lawn
mowed. It's red fescue, a tall ornamental grass. If it were not mowed,
I would not be able to rake leaves from it; the accumulated leaves would
then smother the lawn. I'll be adding some of the grass clippings to
the compost pile.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
Why do you make a distinction between leaf mold and compost? Aren't
they the same thing?
My solution is to use the lawn mower as a vacuum cleaner with a bag
attached. This mixture of chopped up leaves and some grass is more
compact than the whole leaves. This gets dumped into my compost bins.
These bins can fill up initially, but very soon will natureally compact
even more from their own weight or from the rain. You ahould have
enough room in any reasonably sized bins to acommodate your entire
lawn. I only bag my grass clippings once a year after leaf fall to
clean up the leaves. Otherwise, bagging too much will remove too
much nutrients from the lawn.
No, they aren't the same thing even though compost may have some leaves
included in it.
Leaf mould is made by piling leaves and then letting the pile rot down for a
couple of years without disturbance. Leaves have lignin in them and thus
they take a long time to rot and, unlike compost, it is a cold rotting
process rather than a hot one. Leaves decompose by using fungal
decompostition IIRC whereas compost is made by bacterial decomposition
Leaf mould is valuble as the end result of decayed material is more durable
in the soil than 'normal' compost (because of the lignin).
Another difference is that Leaf mould is made of just leaves and compost is
made of a combination of materials and includes a high nitrogen content
which is not present in leaf mould.
Some leaves take forever to turn into leaf mould, for example, Plane tree
My leaf piles in compost bins take only one year to process. I do not
add any enhancers to them, except for water. It is key to keep these
leaf piles damp, as I can see dry portions never cooking. It is also
important that they are chopped up. Otherwise, they mat together and
this also prevents decomposition.
Leaves have lignin in them
My checking on the web says that stems and wood contain more lignin
than leaves, so I don't think this is the reason for them taking so
long to break down.
Now, my compost piles have some grass clippings in them, so this may
account for the fact that they get nice and hot, even steamy on colder
days. However, I have seen recommendations of 2 parts of grass to
every part of leaves for a pile. In my case, I think the grass is
than 10 percent of the total, but everything cooks just fine in one
Leaves decompose by using fungal
From what I read, lignum is present in all vascular plants, and occurs
in higher amounts in wood than in leaves.
Except for processing time, I don't think the nitrogen affects the
plants covered in leaf compost. There are more natural ways the soil
to fixate itself with nitrogen. My experience is that leaves will
break down in a years time, assuming the pile is kept consistently
damp and the leaves are chopped up.
Others made the distinction for me: Compost starts as 50% green matter
(e.g., grass clippings) and 50% brown matter (e.g., dead leaves). Mine
is about 95% brown matter.
My lawn is an ornamental grass. It grows 6" or more and flops over.
(Yes, I can walk on it; but it's not for children to play.) When it
gets mowed (only once or twice a year), the clippings are not fine. If
I add too much, I can't really stir the pile. Then the clippings mat
down and don't mix with the rest of the pile.
The lawn is mowed in October, before leaves begin to fall. With
different kinds of trees that drop their leaves at different times, I
would have to mow more often, defeating the purpose of planting red
With only one or two mowings a year for a rather small lawn, I don't own
a power mower. Instead, I use a lawn service. I don't want to pay them
for extra visits just to pick up leaves.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
You must have some unusual trees in your area. In my area, you find
many of the common trees (Lower Great Lakes). I find that almost all
the leaves fall within a one to two week period. There are just a few
Hangers on, not amounting to be of concern.
Using a lawn service should not limit your leaf takeup. I would skip
a cutting as soon as the first leaves fall. Usually, this is in a
cool time of the year when the grass is not growing much anyways.
Then wait till the majority of leaves have falled (two weeks usually)
and have your lawn service bag their cutting. and dump it on your
mulch pile. I do the same using my own mower, but this should work
The zelkova has started shedding now. The oak follows and seems to take
about two weeks. Only after the oak is bare, the liquidambar then drops
its leaves; that delay is nice because this tree is very colorful in the
fall. When the peach tree drops its leaves, I let them remain as a mulch.
When everything else is bare, then the ash dumps a load; see my
<http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_back.html#tree . This takes about
a month or more. If the winter is especially mild and the Santa Anna
winds are not strong (see
<http://www.rossde.com/garden/index.html#santa_ana ), it might not drop
its leaves until the end of February or the beginning of March.
The other trees are evergreen and slowly shed all year long. This
includes seven broad-leaf evergreens (four of them are dwarf citrus) and
Note my area in my signature below.
I don't think you understand. This is an occasional, infrequent
service. This is NOT a regular service that I can skip.
I use the lawn service only once in the fall and sometimes (not every
year) only once in the spring. This is not a regular service. The
grass is red fescue, an ornamental grass that grows 6" or more and flops
over. It would not need to be mowed at all in the fall except to make
it short enough to rake leaves. If I don't rake them, they will smother
the grass. The ash tree is in the middle of this lawn. If the ash
drops its leaves in December and not March, the one mowing in the fall
is sufficient. If it were not mowed in the fall, I would have it mowed
once a year, in the spring, to encourage fresh growth.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
Here in central NJ under Tulip Poplars, the amount of leaves that fall
is sufficient to create a pile 4 inches deep over the entire lawn.
Most of the lawn would be dead in one year if the leaves weren't
Even small clumps of leaves will make bare spots on a lawn over the
Leaves on bare ground don't cause a problem, except that they will
blow off the bare ground onto the lawn over the winter.
Leaves are valuable. They make good compost which is useful for
gardening, vegetables, flower gardens or even on lawns if chopped up.
It's a shame that so many people waste so much time and energy raking
up leaves, bagging them, then sending to be hauled off, when they
could be piled up for compost. Or, here in the South we have a
landscape form called 'natural area'. You can also blow them into
natural areas with your lawnmower, leaf blower or just rake them.
If they are allowed to just pile up on grass, you'll likely damage the
grass. Of course if you want more natural area and less lawn, that's
not a bad idea either.
I have "free" road apples just down the road. Another neighbor told
me I could have all the maple leaves on his property that I wanted...
yes, he giggled when I asked for permission. I smoothered my flower
bed about 4-5 inches deep with these dried leaves. Then comes the
other neighbor with the ponies. She gave me 3 barrels of road apples;
which I dumped onto of the leaves. These are definitely "green" apples
but I figure with mulch and time, they should be ok.
This cost me nothing but time and a little sore muscles. The only thing
I want and should add is peat onto the top of it all. At any rate, it will
fun to see what happens this spring.
On Thu, 5 Nov 2009 16:51:59 -0500, "Existential Angst"
I agree with you...but.....the neighbors sure save me a lot of work.
All the leaves on our lawn are mowed/mulched right wehre they fall, no
I simply drive about town and collect bags full of leaves from the
curb, for the compost pile and garden. I let somebody else do the
work of raking and bagging. I also stack many bags of dry leaves and
have them for use next spring/summer.
Charlie, who hates the sound of leaf blowers
My neighbor does that--heaps of leaves, and the trees in that area
have been dying. I think there is a difference between a natural
or almost natural amount of leaves (etc.) under trees and a huge
heap of them.
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