Don’t Rake Leaves to the Curb!

December 6, 2012 | By | Comments (6)

Grumpy’s son, Brian, proves once again that even if you go off to college and major in Physics, you never                                  truly grow up. Photo by Steve Bender.

Everywhere, it’s raining leaves. So are we going to rake all those fallen leaves to the curb to clog our storm drains and choke our landfills? No, no, no! Intelligent and responsible homeowners save their leaves to improve the garden and protect the environment. The best part? This invaluable organic matter is free!

Here are some easy ways to dispose of fallen leaves without hauling them off of your property.

1. Run a mulching mower over fallen leaves on the lawn to chop them into tiny bits. Left in place, the leaves will decompose and provide organic matter and nutrients to the grass without harming it in any way. They’ll also attract earthworms that will loosen the soil. No more need to rent a core aerator!

2. If you want, bag the chopped leaves from your mower. But don’t put them out with the trash. Instead, spread them as mulch on your garden beds. They’ll look great, stay in place, and enrich the soil. Or add them to your compost pile or compost bin. Kept moist and well-aerated, they’ll quickly decompose into rich organic matter even in the cold of winter.

3. Pile unchopped leaves atop and/or around tender shrubs, perennials, and bulbs that don’t normally survive winters in your area. Fallen leaves provide excellent insulation.

4. If your property includes a wooded or natural area, rake or blow the leaves there. They’ll break down and feed trees and other plants, keep the soil moist, and reduce run-off and erosion.

5. Rake the leaves into a giant pile to let your kids experience the time-honored tradition of jumping into them and making a mockery of all of your hard work. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, HOWEVER, permit teenage males to up the ante to “x-treme leaf jumping.” Briefly home from college last week, my freshman son, Brian, suggested jumping into the pile from atop a porch railing approximately 8 feet above the ground. Grumpy explained to him that a pile of leaves is about 99% air and that his Gluteus maximus would become a Gluteus craximus. Finally, he agreed to fall backward into the pile from ground level. “Wow, I hit harder than I thought,” he said. Now here’s the scary part. He’s studying Physics.


  1. lisa m

    We rake them into tree islands then top them with pine straw to keep them from blowing away. Looks pretty too.

    March 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm
  2. Steve Bender


    Confederate rose is hardy outdoors in your area, so you can either leave the pot outdoors or plant the Confederate rose in the ground. You can cut it back as far as you want — it blooms on new growth. Unpruned plants can grow to be 20-foot trees in your area.

    January 14, 2013 at 1:36 pm
  3. Nancy Killough

    Just stumbled on to this site and enjoying it! For Christmas, my mother brought me a large pot in which a confederate rose had “sprung up” from her huge tree she has had for over 20 years. This “seedling” is about 5′ tall and has shed its leaves. I live in NW Florida and have recently pulled it into my garage b/c of freezing temperatures at night. It gets some light from a single east-side window. I sooo want it to survive so I can plant it in the spring (I assume after the last frost). Should I leave it in the garage or put it back outside, basically in the location it will be planted, and just keep mulch around it in the pot? And when I do plant it, how far down do I cut off the dead-looking branches without damaging it? Also, I have more acorns covering my yard this year than I believe I have ever seen. Any suggestions on what to do with them? Just leave them be? Will a mower that picks up leaves also pick up acorns? Thank you kindly for running this website.

    January 6, 2013 at 11:46 pm
  4. Cindy S

    At our previous home, we used the leaves as a weed controlling mulch along the drainage ditch bank running along the back side of our yard. Over time (9 yrs), this built up the bank, kept the weeds well under control and helped with erosion from rain run off. Just wished the hubby would have kept the same practices here at the new home….some people are just untrainable….sigh…

    December 26, 2012 at 2:13 pm
  5. Betsy Wells

    I have a leaf mulcher and after shredding the leaves, I spread them as mulch in the flower beds I have already cleaned. If there are any left over, they will go into the compost.

    December 7, 2012 at 11:56 am
  6. Nancy Spain

    We use mulching blades on our lawn mower and our push mower. The only time we rake is to rake the leaves away from the fence.

    December 6, 2012 at 10:01 am

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