Fall leaves can be a gardener’s delight or a sewer maintenance nightmare. Too often, the City experiences the latter, especially when leaves are blown into the street or left curbside to sweep into storm drains.
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution that will keep your yard green and storm drain clear.
A relatively new City ordinance requires homeowners and commercial businesses to keep curbs and gutters free and clear in front of their property. When leaves fall, many homeowners bag the material and place it curbside for sanitation crews to pick up. That’s okay, but there may be a better way to manage the volume of fall leaves, according to City of Huntsville Landscape Management Director Joy McKee.
“Instead of trying to bag all the leaves, simply blow them onto your lawn and run over them with a lawnmower,” said McKee. “This composts the material and creates the best nutrients your yard can get. It’s free soil amendments and good for the environment.”
Once the leaves are broken down, its newly formed compost will nourish gardens, lawns and shrubs. McKee and her landscape team offer the following tips:
- Blow leaves and other yard debris onto the lawn and use a lawnmower to break down the material. Leave the organic waste on the yard to provide free nutrients for a lush lawn.
- Blow leaves into beds with shrubs and spread out evenly. Place a thin layer of mulch on top to create a natural “blanket” and hold the leaves in place. The leaves will begin composting under the heat of the “blanket” and amend the soil to support healthy shrubs.
- Create a compost box in your yard using chicken coop fencing. Add leaves, small sticks, berries and other yard debris and turn the material at least once a month. The more often you turn the material, the better for microbes to do their work.
By Spring, these steps will turn compost into “black gold” – soil amendments that are wonderful for your lawn and garden. Best of all, the organic process keeps Huntsville clean, places less stress on the City landfill, and helps storm lines flow.
For more information about composting and managing fall leaves and yard waste, contact the City of Huntsville’s Green Team at 256-532-5326 (53-CLEAN) or Green.Team@HuntsvilleAl.gov.