Don’t Curb Your Leaves — Compost Them

November 14, 2008 | By | Comments (2)

What can brown leaves do for you? How about feed your garden? For free!

Gee, you’d think during times like these when 401k’s are shrinking faster than Teri Hatcher’s waistline, people would go for free fertilizer that falls from the sky and doesn’t smell. But just go outside this weekend and you’ll see your neighbors engaged in waste that would make Congress proud. They’ll be raking their leaves to the curb.

This is stupid is so many ways. Let me enumerate:

  • Leaves raked to the curb invariably make their way into storm drains and clog them. Who pays to unclog storm drains? Taxpayers.
  • In most cities and towns where trucks suck up leaves in fall, the leaves end up in landfills along with garbage. Who pays to open new landfills when old ones fill up? Taxpayers. Granted, some enlightened towns compost the leaves, but not enough.
  • Leaves make great organic fertilizer, compost, and mulch, better than anything you can buy at home centers. All you have to do is chop them up. And they’re free!

The cheap and environmentally sensitive Grump has never raked a single leaf to the curb. Instead, he chops up leaves in two ways.

  1. He runs over fallen leaves on the lawn with his mulching mower. The pulverized bits of leaves gradually decompose in place, adding organic matter to the soil. Earthworms eat organic matter, loosen compacted soil, and fertilize it.
  2. He uses an electric leaf shedder to turn leaves into mulch he can use on his garden beds. This home-made mulch looks better than any mulch you can buy and stays in place better too. It keeps down weeds, keeps soil moist, and turns into great soil as it breaks down. I sit my leaf shredder atop a steel trash can and fill it in no time. Home and garden centers sometimes sell leaf shredders. You’ll find a really nice one at Gardener’s Supply Company (

The King of Stupid

Do I expect my admonitions to change the world? Heck no. They won’t even change my neighborhood. There’s this guy down the street with woods in his back yard. Every fall — I swear this is true — he rakes up and bags all the leaves in his woods and takes them to the curb.

Out of sight, out of his mind.


  1. Grumpy Gardener

    You are a very wise person. If you want, you can come over to my house and rake up my leaves. Generosity is my middle name.

    December 2, 2008 at 5:09 pm
  2. Jan

    I compost my leaves then go scavenging in the neighborhood to find bagged leaves waiting to be hauled away on trash pick-up day…I get them before the trash comes. Last year I brought over 50 large yard bags back for my garden. I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t recycle their leaves to use in their flower beds or gardens. They are a great resource!

    December 2, 2008 at 4:47 pm

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