Each fall many homeowners across the state enjoy the vibrant colors that our trees provide as leaves change colors, but come winter, leaves begin to fall and cover lawns and yards creating yet another chore. Raking, piling, and bagging unwanted leaves represents a time-consuming and labor-intensive job that comes at a time when many homeowners and gardeners are looking for a break from a long summer of tending and managing their yards and gardens. I have some not-so-pleasant memories from my youth of raking leaves in the fall when I visited my cousins who had an abundance of deciduous trees around their home. It seems that we kids were expected to rake leaves before we were able to go hunting, ramble through the woods, play football or any of the many other activities country boys would rather have been doing in the fall.
Tree leaves that accumulate around the yard represent an often overlooked resource that can provide nutrients and organic matter for use in your flower beds or gardens. Experts tell us that one acre of forest can provide approximately two tons of leaves each fall depending on which part of the country you are from. In natural settings, leaves that blanket the soil surface can provide erosion control, conserve moisture, and regulate soil temperatures. Leaves contain fifty to eighty percent of the nutrients a plant extracts from the soil and air during the growing season. So, it seems a shame for this valuable resource to end up in a landfill. Recycling leaves and yard waste instead of landfilling them not only saves valuable landfill space, but it also can provide a source of fertility for other plants around the yard and garden if properly managed. So, what are some alternatives to bagging and landfilling your leaves? Options for managing and using your leaves include the following
Improving your soil is the first step toward growing healthy plants. Proper leaf management can be a useful tool for many homeowners and gardeners. For more information on leaf management check out the following Clemson Extension Home and Garden Information Fact Sheets: 1600 and 1604.
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