Environmental Focus on Kingston: Leaf ’em Alone

It’s that time of year again.

This year’s fall season will soon blanket the area in vibrant color.  As the joys of fall harvest fade, we’ll be left with the aftermath of fallen leaves.  The city will begin collecting leaves as of October 15th.  This also happens to be when they stop collecting regular yard waste, so be sure to have your gardens cutback by then.

Leaves may be placed in paper bags or left at the curb for collection.  Bags may be purchased at the City Clerk’s Office in City Hall for $.37 each or $1.85 for five.  DPW workers will begin in Ward 1 and systematically move throughout the city.  Collection will continue until the first snowfall.  After the 15th, you can call the DPW office at 331-0682 to get a better idea of when they will be in your neighborhood.

Municipal leave collection creates serious disposal problems.  Yard waste accounts for nearly 20% of landfill space.  Hauling bags of leaves to landfills costs taxpayers money.  We have to pay the workforce for their time and the fuel for the vehicles used in collection.  Large landfill piles of leaves produce methane gas as they decompose and breakdown.  Some communities have banned yard waste collection for these reasons.

This year why not try something new?  By composting your leaves you’ll have great fibrous, moisture retaining, organic matter to spread on your garden and lawn by next spring.  Plus it’s less work intensive than all the traditional raking, bagging and hauling.

A large variety of store bought composting bins can be purchased just about anywhere in the free trade zone.  But if you’re more of a spend thrift like me, you can make your own at minimal cost.  All you need is some chicken wire and 4 stakes to get started.  Your composting cage can be sized to fit the needs of your yard.

When adding leaves to your compost pile it’s best to keep each layer about 6-8 inches deep before adding a thin layer of soil.  Anything deeper and oxygen may have a difficult time cycling throughout the compost material.  Keep your pile moist and remember to turn the mixture regularly with pitchfork or other such tool.  You can even add in some grass clippings, coffee grounds and egg shells to it.

It’s that easy Kingston.

Another more passive form of composting is to just leave it on the lawn.  For this approach it’s probably better to just stick grass clippings though.  Leaving leaves on your lawn may make you popular with Mother Nature, but it will probably just really irritate your neighbors.  Not to mention that blowing leaves can easily clog storm drains.

Throwing away your leaves is a waste of a great nature resource.  By keeping leaves in our backyards we are all doing our yards, pocketbooks, community and planet a big favor.

Want to learn more about the ease and benefits of composting?  Check out what the DEC has to say about it.

Take this topic back to your Yahoo Ward Group and find out how your neighbors deal with their fallen leaves.

How do you take care of your fall leaves?  Take our survey and let us know!  

– Wilbur Girl

6 thoughts on “Environmental Focus on Kingston: Leaf ’em Alone

  1. Brilliant!!
    But I don’t think you should leave them on your lawn: they will harm the grass. But compost the leaves for sure!
    You can rake them into circles around the trees, to the borders, etc..
    A simple piece of 4 foot fencing, bent to a 3-4 foot circle will hold all the leaves… they will very quickly compress and turn to nothing at all

  2. Actually – they are great for the grass, as long as they are mowed into small bits. The best fertilizer your lawn could ask for, in fact.

    More to come! Thanks for the comments, and great job – Wilbur Girl.

    Rebecca Martin

  3. I was an “accidental” composter with my leaves. I waited last year for DPW to pick up leaves and with all the rain my bags got drenched. So I put them in a pile in my back yard and added the necessary ingredients and voila, this year I had great soil so I am planning on doing the same. I was also wondering why DPW doesn’t reverse or alternate the schedule starting with ward 9. In years past, by the time they got to Ward 9 snow had fallen and we had huge clumps of raked leaves that were mingled with snow and ice. Real pain to shovel with the extra load not to mention the clogged sewer drain on the corner with the water runoff from melted snow with frozen leaves.

  4. I am so excited to use my leaves this year in my garden. I am sheet composting or lasagna gardening my community garden plot. Leaves are one of the best and cheapest resources we have to make the soil better!

    I have also mowed my leaves into the grass chopping into little bits, and that works wonders for the lawn and is a fast way to get rid of leaves.

  5. Tracey that’s awesome to hear! I actually ran across this “lasagna composting” term for the first time while doing some research for this post.

    For those not familiar with the concept, you can check this link out:

    http://organicgardening.about.com/od/startinganorganicgarden/a/lasagnagarden.htm

    It looks like something the Kingston City Community Gardens might want to consider when they put their gardens to sleep this fall.

    I am also a “mow my leaves” kind of girl. I save the raking for the spring. But this year I will start a compost pile and put some of them to another use. Next year’s garden will love them!

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