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Dallas Morning News - November 28, 2019

Leaf Management


Many years ago in Pittsburg, Texas we managed leaves buy raking them into piles, playing in the piles for a bit, then burning them. Besides being illegal now, especially here in the city, that’s the second worst method of leaf management. First worst is bagging the leaves and sending them to the landfill.


This serious mistake in property management wastes time, wastes taxpayer money, throws away valuable soil-building organic material and looks terrible. Unfortunately this procedure is quite common everywhere. Here's my annual attempt to pass along some common sense.


Don't collect and bag leaves for the landfill. Mulch them instead.


Leaf Management No - No’s:

  1. Leaves should never be raked, put in bags and sent to the landfill.
  2. Leaves should not be raked and put into the compost pile - except as a last resort.
  3. Leaves should never be blown on to the neighbor’s property or into the streets.

Correct Leaf Management:


1. Leaves (and grass clippings by the way) should be mowed and mulched into the turf. Using a mulching mower is best but not essential. Turf can take quite a volume of leaves before there is excess. Excess leaves would be when the lawn is about to be completely covered and smothered by the ground-up material.


2. At the point of excess, the leaves should still be mulched on the lawn or driveway, but then raked, picked up and distributed as mulch on bare soil in flowerbeds and vegetables gardens.


3. When no more mulch is needed in landscape and vegetable beds, the remaining leaves that have been ground-up by the lawnmower can be put into the compost pile. Then you can add dry molasses to the beds and the compost pile to help the material break down and become humus more efficiently.


Keep your leaves at home and mulch or compost them


Never under any circumstances should the leaves be removed from the site. They should be mulched or composted as a last resort. All cities should outlaw the service of picking up leaves and grass clippings. If home and business owners had to recycle the organic matter the landscapes would be healthier, water runoff reduced and less taxes would be needed for picking up and managing leaves and other organic material. Everybody wins!


I recently stopped and talked to some homeowners where huge piles of leaves were on the curb ruining the beauty of the street and setting up a taxpayer expense. Most of the people were very nice and admitted that they left the work up to the lawn care company and they appreciated the advice. I’m delighted to report that some of those folks had those bags of leaves dumped out on the turf and mulched properly. They just didn’t know. We’re making some progress on this – one yard at a time.




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