Fall Leaves

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Leaves changing and falling from the trees is really what defines fall and signals the coming of winter.  (Is it leaves or leafs?)  But, I have a pet peeve about fall and leaves.

When I was a kid, our whole neighborhood would pretty much get together and rake our yards on the same weekend.  We had huge leaf piles that we’d all jump in. Then we’d burn the leaves in the street gutter and it would be super smokey.  Kind of weird now, but that was the way it was back then.

People used to take care of the gutters in front of their houses.  Not anymore.  At least in Topeka.  I live in a pretty good neighborhood in Topeka and most of the street gutters and nearly all the sewer grates are clogged with leaves.

But when many people rake their leaves, most put them into plastic trash bags and have the trashmen pick them up.  That is wrong is more than one way.

First of all, I read something about leaves in a dump and it is a high percentage, something like 16% of all volume.  I think it said that 125 million tons of leaves are put into landfills in the US.  We’re putting stuff into a landfill that would decompose on its own.  What is up with that?

We have a couple compost places in our backyard.  I can add as many leaves as I want and they are mostly gone by the next spring.  It makes super garden additive.  If you don’t want to rake the leaves and put them in a compost bin, then just mow them and let them help your yard.  Or rake  them and put them around your bushes.

Up in Mount Prospect, a Chicago suburb, where Trudi grew up, all you have to do is rake  your leaves to the curb and every Monday they come by with a special vacuum truck and the suck them up, shred them and then they take them to the vegetation dump.  Every city should do this.  Clogging up our storm sewers with leaves is just dumb.

Anyway other than bagging them up and giving the trash guys more work is okay.  We have enough problems in our society than filling our trash dumps with vegetation.   Someone, maybe our city officials, need to educate us all about what is the right thing to do with leaves.  We’re doing it all wrong now.

One of my neighbors driveway.

One of my neighbors driveway.

Another. This is nearly weekly all fall.

Another. This is nearly weekly all fall.

Nothing like the storm sewers being clogged. If you have a storm sewer in front of your house you need to keep it clear.

Nothing like the storm sewers being clogged. If you have a storm sewer in front of your house you need to keep it clear.

This guy has been coming nightly to the compose pile. I guess he like the fruit peels or something.

This guy has been coming nightly to the compost pile. I guess he likes the fruit peels or something.  I’ve been teaching Tucker to not bark in the yard, but he can’t help himself with an opossum.


28 thoughts on “Fall Leaves

  1. Danny E

    People who rake and bag leaves are insane. I just mulch them up with my mower, which is free fertilizer as nature intended.

  2. Andy

    Here in Canada we put our leaves in special paper bags and then they are picked up to be deposited in a municipal compost site. It’s been like that for years.

  3. Bill K

    I’m in another Chicago suburb. We also use the large paper bag method. We can also buy a sticker that you put on a plastic garbage can (so that you can’t use it for garbage) All of this is picked up by a dedicated lawn and garden waste truck. Paper bags cost $1 each, and the stickers are also $1. The cans with stickers are the cheapest way, since you can use them every week until all the leaves are gone.

  4. nancy

    my town in MA is doing a separate yard waste pick up spring to fall. For the leaves, we pit them on the curve and the town came with a truck to suck them up. A lot of my neighbors hired contractors for clean up in spring and fall.

    I think you can send a letter to your town and ask to consider yard waste pick up or your state.

  5. k23435

    Ragarding the leaves, here in Finland it is a requirement by the law to have a recycling bin for compostable materials. The complete list of various waste bins for complexes with over 20 dwellings includes

    General garbage

    Not to even mention the IoT sensors they are now implementing for the bins, which ensure the garbage is only collected when the bins are full, leading to 40%+ savings.

    I know all this sounds cool, but it is also bloody cold and dark here this time of the year ; )

  6. janna

    I just leave the leafs on my yard, momma nature will do as she does every year. The mounds of snow comes, packs down the leaves, the leafs decompose in the spring and provides growth… just the way momma nature intended the cycle to occur.
    To have some truck haul them away is really ludicrous, the amount of fuel to haul away leafs is foolishness at its best… same goes for composting. I just fire all my compositing out the back door and into the garden or the woods. No point packaging it up in a bag which takes time to decompose in some massive landfill then have some massive 40000 tonne truck haul it away. It takes very little energy to just chuck the compost out the back door and let momma nature do its thing.
    Problem is, we are so far removed from nature now a days that people don’t realize the power of nature anymore. I just look at all the mountain bike trails that were banded by authorities, momma nature recovered those trails in just 6 months…. gone is the skinny little trail that allowed people to explore the forest. Then, the authorities cut down all the forest just to put up more homes, monster homes at that… who the hell needs a 4000sqft home with a 3 car garage – they have 10 families living in the place or what? Ah america, we have become fools in some sense and gluttons… the evilness of sin I guess?

    So, having said all that, I just leave my leafs on the grass for mother nature to do her thing, she’s one smart cookie, more so than we humans which like to create empires and massive transportation infrastructures to haul sht around… which in turn just increases taxes in the long run.

    my political rant for the day, sorry… attended a conference yesterday on government silos and mind bent thinking of the masses, just peeved me off …

  7. janna

    totally agree with this, momma nature has a free compositing method which is very very efficient.
    But, we humans love spending money on huge infrastructures and mass transportation methods for foolishness really… in the end, it increases taxes though – ouch!
    let momma nature do her thing, its free eh!

    so far removed we are from nature now… that’s the underlying problem.

  8. James

    Topeka is just behind Steve? Most communities req paper bag for yard waste. Hey the rake them into the gutter thing is bs. Most municipalities have code for thls, just needs enforced. My city code app is ready this year!

    I mulch some, then paper bag some. But I don’t push them to the gutter or wait for the wind to blow them to the neighbors. Which is the case for some of you ‘mamma nature’ disciples.

  9. janna

    Just leave the leafs be, the snow will come and help compost in the spring… incredible how remarkable and efficient momma nature is. Incredibly efficient. Having trucks haul away stuff is highly inefficient.

    most successful societies are those that can produce the greatest outputs with the least resources, thus let momma nature do its thing eh!

  10. janna

    just leafs… its not a forest fire… doesn’t cause much harm.

    problem is – we dam humans like structure too much… clean lawns etc… fools we are really.
    Most people would suffer if they had their creature comforts removed because so far removed from nature we are now… fools we have become really… really fools.
    America isn’t 18 trillion in debt for nothing but foolishness. Hauling leafs away by mass trucks is foolishness at its best.

  11. The Cyclist

    These damn leaves almost killed me once. Kids love hiding rocks under them in the middle of the bike lanes sometimes…

  12. Miguel

    “December 1. The alarm clock rings. The games are over. The fun is done. It is time for work.” – Eddie B

  13. Emacdo

    Wow, I wish our cans were IoT-enabled. It’s really dumb to take out half a bin and get charged regardless.

  14. H Luce

    I’m lazy, I mulch them with my mower, got to get out and do some more today and tomorrow. Putting them in plastic bags and dumping them in a landfill is madness.

  15. CurtloDude

    I’m in a Chicago burb, and the leaves most definitely are NOT gone come spring. They lay under the snow, and then in the spring, smother the grass in certain parts of my yard. I lost a crap load of grass to this. It still hasn’t returned growing grass after 3 years. It’s just dirt now. Leaves are great for insulation around bushes and plants. But they still have to be dealt with come spring. They don’t disappear in a few months. You all must have some magic leaves.

    We get a 4 weeks of free pickup for leaves only in paper bags, no stickers required. WHere they go, I have no idea. But if there’s any other yard waste visible, those bags need stickers, so I’m assuming they go into a giant pile somewhere.

    I’m surprised about Steve’s neighborhood using plastic bags. That’s a mess I bet. At least the paper bags can just get dumped with the leaves safely.

  16. Fausto

    Everyone wants a bright green grass yard all winter long, no leaves. I live by NYC, and it is against the rules of fall. Change color, fall on the ground, that’s what leaves do, leave them be. Worse is our town will pick them up if blown to the curb, which is interpreted as in the street, so riding means beining in the lane to avoid them. No one cares if you fill the designated bike lane with them. Fun times.


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