Try mulching leaves instead of raking 10.06

Written by David Green.

Curbside brush pickup continues for Morenci residents, and leaf pickup will soon begin.

City residents are also invited to take their own leaves and brush to the collection site behind the DPW at any time. The building is located off Salisbury Street at the back of Wakefield Park.

Burning leaves and brush is not allowed in the city, but there is an alternative to the city’s collection.

This year, said Kevin Sayers of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, it might be worth considering the alternative of mulching leaves into the lawn instead of raking them to the curb.

Research has proven that mowing leaves into your lawn can improve its vigor, and observation shows that unraked leaves in planting beds don’t smother shade-tolerant perennials.

Since before 1995 when the Federal Solid Waste Management Act eliminated the disposal of yard waste in landfills and the Clean Air Act simultaneously became more stringent regarding burning of tree leaves, homeowners have become accustomed to raking leaves to the curb for collection.

However, ongoing research at Michigan State University, Purdue University and others has demonstrated numerous benefits to mulching leaves on-site including, improved soil organic matter, nutrient levels and reduced presence of broadleaf weeds.

Mulching is not a new idea, but universities have only recently compiled enough data to determine that tree-leaf mulching has no long-term negative effects on healthy turf.

With municipal budgets being squeezed further each year, the expense of leaf collection/composting programs is being scrutinized as well. One study reported the following average municipal leaf collection costs:

• leaf collection program cost per 1,000 population, $2,350;

• leaf collection labor cost per curb-mile collected, $135; and

• leaf collection equipment cost per curb-mile collected, $223.

Visit the following website for tips on mulching and composting leaves on your property: http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/improve-soil-rake-less.aspx.

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