PEI

Dread raking? 5 tips to make fall cleanup better for you — and the earth

It's that time of year again when the leaves are falling and you may be dreading getting out and raking. But according to some experts, it may be better to do less work this fall.

People need to get over the pressure to have a clean lawn, says environmental studies professor

Leaving some leaves on your lawn can help the soil, experts say. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

It's that time of year again when the leaves are falling and you may be dreading getting out and raking. But according to some experts, it may be better to do less work this fall.

Pamela Courtenay-Hall, a professor who teaches environmental studies at the University of Prince Edward Island, says people need to get over that pressure to have a pristine lawn.

What you do depends on your situation, she says. If you have a heavy leaf cover, you should take them off because they can damage the lawn. But leaving a few won't hurt your grass. If you want to avoid the extra work of bagging, she gave us some other options.  

There are options that are more environmentally friendly than bagging. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

Mow them into mulch

If you have light or moderate levels of leaves, you can run them over with your lawn mower, without the bag attached, and leave them there over winter. The nutrients left when they break down can help the soil. 

Build a pen

This is one of the easiest ways to clean up, Courtenay-Hall says. Even one simply made out of stakes and chicken wire is enough to hold the leaves. She says wet weather will help to compact it down pretty quickly. If you don't have space, you could consider asking a neighbour if you could share a pen in their space. In spring, the leaf mulch can be used in gardens. 

Put them in your backyard compost pile

Leaves are one of the best additions to your compost pile and you can put a lot on. You just have to make sure you turn it and be sure to break it up after it's been frozen all winter. 

Spreading the leaves in a wooded area will help the soil and the trees. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

Put the leaves in a wooded area

If you have woods around your property spreading the leaves there will only help the soil and make the trees healthier once the leaves eventually break down.

Talk to your neighbours

To avoid any neighbourhood conflict, Courtenay-Hall recommends speaking to your neighbours if you plan to leave the leaves alone.  By discussing leaf options you may be able to come up with a neighbourhood plan to work together, like building pens, or starting a community compost area.