David Garner is a Seasonal Interpretive Naturalist at Monroe Lake for the Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs. David studied Natural Resources and Environmental Science at Purdue University and has worked at both Monroe Lake and four years at the Indiana Dunes State Park. He enjoys helping both kids and adults to discover the wonders of nature.
Many people visit the Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs for the great fall leaf colors. One of the things I love about the fall is not only the colors on the trees, but also the way that nature paints the forest floor with the leaves as they drift to the ground. The artist of this masterpiece is something you can see and something that you can’t: the shortening of the daylight, and the wind. Although this is a welcoming sight as you walk in the woods it might be an unwelcome sight in your own backyard. The task of what to do with this leaves may seem daunting, but there are some options.
Your leaves are a commodity that can be recycled and reused. If you do have a wooded area the easiest way to deal with them is to leave them on the ground. The nutrients in the leaves will help the flowers grow in the years to come. If you do not have a wooded area and are trying to deal with the leaves on your lawn you should consider shredding the leaves with a mulching mower and leaving them on the ground. Shredding the leaves will provide a protective winter cover and decompose by the spring. If you have a lot of leaves you may have to do multiple passes with the mower or mow more when the fallen leaves are at their heaviest.
If you have a bagging mower you can connect the bag and put the mulched leaves on the garden, flower beds or into a compost pile. To set up a compost pile, put the leaves into a contained area or bin with your leftover food waste and grass clippings. Compost piles should be about 2 parts green to one part brown materials. Green material still has moisture in it, like grass clipping and food waste. Brown materials will be items like dead leaves, twigs and brush. To help these materials break down faster turn your compost pile every one to two weeks.
If are not interested in the above options, some cities and counties offer curbside yard waste service, or you may have a drop-off site in your county. Contact your local Solid Waste District and they can point you in the right direction. Before you do that make sure that you rake those leaves into a pile and allow your kids, or maybe yourself, to have a few jumps just for fun!