I can’t not share this post from Extension Master Gardener about making/sharing leaves for compost. It’s a University of Maryland Howard County (near Baltimore) Extension Master Gardener program which matches people who have leaves and want to get rid of them with people who want leaves to improve their gardens. The rakers promise to rake only herbicide-free leaves, bag them, and leave the bags at their curb (or wherever they’ve agreed to leave them). The takers agree to pick up the bags. Then they use the leaves to make their own mulch or compost.
While most of the takers have been Master Gardeners, I think this could be a really good thing for all communities. Here in Vancouver, WA, we have to pay to have our leaves collected. Yes, sometimes there are reprieves (coupons to help defray the cost of removal), but for the most part we have to pay someone to take our leaves. Then when we need mulch, we have to pay for that, too. Wouldn’t it be nice to NOT pay for mulch any more?
If you have trees and ground, you can make your own mulch. I’ve previously written about leaf mold and mulch. I can’t say enough about what a good think leaf mold is and how easy it is to make. Of course, you must have some yard to do it, and you need leaves. But most people who have even small yards (maybe not townhouse size) generally have enough room for a leaf pile. Or… You really don’t need to make the pile to make leaf mold. You can simply grind up the ‘ “leaves” ‘ and “dump” perhaps 1″-2″ deep of them on your ornamental beds in the fall. Over the winter the leaf parts will make lovely leaf mold (it’s not mold at all). It will work to help retain the soil’s moisture, improve the soil’s fertility and structure (over time), and help discourage weeds.
I leave the leaves that fall on the ornamental beds just lay where they fell. The leaves that fall on the lawn, I mow up and let fill into the bag where they are adequately ground up. Then I just sprinkle the bag’s contents over the areas of my garden not under the canopy of a tree or shrubs which shed their leaves.
I realize spring is not generally when we are thinking about collecting or disposing of our fall leaves. But perhaps we can put it on our calendars for the fall. Save/Use Leaves.