Beyond Raking: Three Alternatives to Manage Fall Leaf Litter
Updated: Oct 19
Raking and bagging leaves for yard waste pick-up is a time-honored fall tradition, but it’s not the only way to manage your leaf litter.
Here are three alternatives to raking that can provide extra benefits to your yard:
1. Mulching. Mulching your leaves with a lawnmower gives your turfgrass a shot of much-needed nutrients while keeping the leaves out of storm drains. This strategy works best if you start sooner rather than later. A good rule of thumb is to mulch when your lawn is less than 50 percent covered in leaves and to rake if it’s more than that.
2. Piling/storing. Leaf litter provides important habitat for overwintering pollinators. If there’s a spot where you can safely pile them where they won’t blow away, consider leaving them put until late spring. (Raingardens and garden beds can be perfect for this.)
3. Composting. Finally, leaf litter provides excellent fuel for a backyard compost bin. Home composting of yard and food waste can provide a healthy, organic source of compost that can be used as a soil amendment or mulch. The Minnesota Composting Council offers a handy how-to video series and other resources to help you get started.
Our main goal is to keep leaf litter out of streets and storm drains, where it becomes a source of excess nutrients that pollute the Mississippi River. However, you choose to manage your leaves, don’t forget to clear your gutters and storm drains this fall!
Bonus: Now is also a great time to adopt a stormdrain as well.
(Credit/Reposted from: Mississippi Watershed Management Organization September 2023 Newsletter)