At the farm, we have no problem with leaf disposal. The woods and the oaks in the savannah areas really take care of themselves. In Madison, though, while we’ve replaced a lot of the grass with prairie garden, we still have leaves to rake. For the most part, we try to keep the leaves in our yard instead of putting them out for collection and we’ve been doing this for several years. This year, we really don’t have many leaves to put out for collection and my goal for next year is to keep and use all of the leaves.
We mulch the wildflower garden and the row of wild grasses as well as the woodland garden in the back yard. We add the leaves to the compost bins to balance out the kitchen scraps and the weeds that we’ve pulled in the late summer and early fall. We put a good layer of dry leaves in the trash can that we use for winter compost. It sits right outside the garage door so I don’t have to wade through the snow to get rid of kitchen trimmings, eggshells, coffee filters and grapefruit rinds during the winter.
In the spring, we’ll add the winter compost to one of the other bins after we dig out the finished compost at the bottom of the bins and we’ll rake the excess mulch from the prairie garden and add that to the compost bins as well. We’ll turn over the vegetable garden area and incorporate the leaves into the soil.
Today, when I was searching the Madison Streets website to figure out when they might collect the leaves that we actually have to put out on the curb, I found that they also have a pretty extensive “Leave the Leaf” section on how to keep and use at least some of the leaves. They have detailed instructions on using leaves for mulch, composting and making “leaf mold” and they mention the benefits of doing so which include keeping phosphorus from the leaves out of the lakes as well as improvement in the nutrients in the soil in one’s yard. Adding leaf mold also improves the ability of the soil to hold water. Although we’ve already instituted our own program, I’m glad to see this resource available and I hope people are taking advantage of it.