Fall is a time of pumpkin spice, cooler weather, and falling leaves. While beautiful, these artifacts of nature are definitely pesky. What’s worse, they become a much larger problem when not addressed quickly.
While there are many things you can do with fallen leaves, once they’re bagged you have fewer options. We’re going to go through everything you should think about when trying to get rid of your bagged leaves.
Contact City / State Government
Before you start raking up the leaves on your lawn and stuffing them into giant garbage bags, it’s best to contact your city or state government office and check to see if there are any special laws or regulations you must adhere to first.
For example, many areas require a certain type of bag for your leaves, which means leaves in any other type of bag won’t be picked up by the appropriate facility.
Some areas require that you use only clear plastic bags for your leaves, while others only want the leaves to be in recyclable paper bags. In addition to the bag requirements, you need to check on which day your town will be picking up those bags, especially if you are required to use paper bags, which are all but impossible to close securely.
The reason this is important is because unless you know the exact moment when those bagged leaves will be picked up – which is highly unlikely – you need to protect them from the elements until the right truck gets there.
Using Bagged Leaves for Composting
This is a very popular option for people who find themselves with a lot of bags of leaves that they don’t want to send to the landfill. A more eco-friendly option, composting is simple and works wonders for all types of plants. To get started, all you have to do is make sure your leaves are in plastic bags and not paper ones.
The 30- to 40-gallon yard bags work best, as do “tear-proof” bags that can be reused in the future.
This is a project that you’ll start in the fall and which will continue until the following spring. To get started, simply place a mixture of three parts brown leaves and one part green grass into each bag. To be the most useful, it has to be a mixture of both green and brown clippings from your yard. Next, pack down the material in the bag and pour about a gallon of water into each one.
After you’ve done this much, go ahead and puncture the bags a few times with a knife to get some air-circulation going, then tie each bag with twine until they are nice and tight. Afterward, you can simply place the bags in an out-of-the-way place in your yard … and wait.
Things to Do in the Meantime
If you’re looking for ideas of what to do with un-bagged leaves, check out our list of things to do with fallen leaves this autumn.
From now until the spring, you need to flip the bags over and upside-down a minimum of two to three times per month. More often is better, because this action helps the nitrogen and carbon distribute evenly throughout each bag so the composting can begin. Once the first winter frost hits, you can stop doing anything to the bags.
When spring finally arrives, you should be able to open the bags and find some nice, brown composting material inside each one of them. If you think the compost hasn’t broken down enough for your tastes, simply add a shovel-full of yard dirt and a little more water into the bag, flip it around a few times, then wait an additional two weeks.
What You Can Do with Your Compost
Once your compost is ready to go, you can use it in flower beds, around trees, and even in the weaker-looking spots in your yard. It does a great job of delivering nutrients to the areas where it’s needed most, enabling you to get thicker, fuller plants, trees, and flowers. For most of these purposes, you’ll want to include a good two to three inches of the compost to get the best results.
In addition, since composting eventually breaks down over time, you can simply add more of the mixture several times a year when it gets too thin or starts to disappear.