Friday, September 25, 2009

Mulching is the New Trend

Burning Leaves is Bad News

Mulching not burning is the new Fall ritual

FallLeavesRemember the smell of burning fall leaves wafting through the air? Good memories, indeed, but best that they remain just memories. Burning leaves is bad news.

This practice is now illegal – or at least highly discouraged – in most areas. Burning leaves releases airborne particulates like dust and soot, mold, and other allergens that were tamped down with rain and decomposition. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): “the total health, financial, and environmental costs of leaf-burning can be quite high. These costs include higher incidences of health problems and increased heath care costs; forest fires and property loss and need for increased fire protection; and the clean-up costs associated with soiling of personal property.” So basically, burning leaves is an environmental no-no.

Leaf blowers, especially gas powered ones, are also a bad idea, at least if you care at all about the environment, your pocketbook or your neighbors’ sanity. Nearly 2.5 million of those gas-guzzling gadgets will be sold this year, according to U.S News, and in a single year they will emit as much pollution as 80 cars. Speaking of pollution, the noise pollution created by leaf-blowers has caused many communities to ban them with noise levels exceeding 70 decibels. Leaf-blowers can be as bad for your health as they are for the environment. They circulate mold, allergens and particulate matter that irritate the lungs – especially for those who suffer from asthma.

A better solution is the rake and mulcher. By turning your leaves into mulch and spreading them over your lawn and garden you can improve the soil quality, fertilize your lawn and protect your garden from the upcoming frigid winter weather. There are a variety of green mulchers to choose from as well. Mulching fallen leaves is the greenest and healthiest way to get rid of fall foliage while you rake in the benefits of your new organic mulch.


…to your wallet

Investing in a rake and mulcher will cost a little money upfront, but it will still be much cheaper than forking up the cash for a leaf-blower (and the gas to put in it).

The leaf mulch will decompose becoming an organic fertilizer rich in nitrogen and other “goodies” for your garden, so you can save the money on pricey store-bought fertilizers.

Expect a lower water bill because soil covered with mulch retains up to 50% more water.

…to your health

Mulching your fall leaves allows your lungs to breathe easy by avoiding the harsh smoke of leaf-burning as well as the allergens and particulate matter spewed by leaf-blowers.

According to U.S. News you can burn off 325 calories in just 60 minutes of leaf-raking as opposed to only 140 calories for lugging around a leaf-blower for the same amount of time.

Enjoy healthy, organic-grown vegetables when you fertilize your garden with leaf-mulch.

…to the earth

The EPA says that leaf-burning contains carbon monoxide and “particulate matter and hydrocarbons, which contain a number of toxic, irritant, and carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds.” Mulching avoids the release of these dangerous chemicals into the air.

Mulch helps maintain the moisture of the soil, so you can conserve water by using less in your yard.

Mulchers typically do not release the amount of fossil fuels and particulate matter into the environment that gas-powered leaf blowers do.

By putting your autumn leaves to good use you are minimizing the amount of trash being added to our already-shrinking landfills.

Getting Started

Buy a mulcher that is an appropriate size for the amount of leaves in your yard. A small electric-powered or self-propelled mulcher should do just fine for most homes. If you really want to be green try purchasing an efficient used mulcher. Once the leaves are mulched, spread them evenly above moist soil in your garden. It is important that the soil be moist before spreading the mulch. Mulch retains moisture, but if the soil is overly dry water may not be able to seep through. After the mulch is spread, you can just sit back and enjoy the benefits of your leaf-free, fertilized yard.

Further Information

Healthy Lawns and Gardens

Lawn Care

Home Composting

Sierra Club Composting Video

Composting Tips

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