Earth Gauge Tip of the Week: Don’t Leave Leaves on the Curb

Reader Contribution by Earth Gauge
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When autumn rolls around, it provides a relief from the summer heat with cooler temperatures and beautiful colors from changing leaves. Those colorful leaves eventually fall to the ground and are placed into piles on roadsides, curbs and sidewalks. While these piles may be fun to jump and play in, they have a downside. Leaves left on the street turn roads into dry creek beds. When rain falls on the leaves, they break down and release polluting nutrients — like nitrogen and phosphorus — into storm drains and local waterways.

Viewer Tip: Create leaf piles in your garden instead of the street. Mowing the lawn and raking can be tasking chores. If you have to do both, why not combine the two and help your garden out at the same time? Leaves and grass clippings can provide natural nutrients to plants and soils. Instead of raking your leaves first then mowing, try mowing the grass and leaves on the lawn together, then raking up the pile and spreading it around on a garden bed on top of the soil. Natural nutrients will filter down into the soil and the plants will feed off of them. You can also add leaves, grass and other yard waste to a compost bin.

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(Sources:  Princeton Township, “Princeton’s Guide to Leaf Management”; Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension, “Don’t Bag It – Leaf Management Plan.”)