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By Sharon Hawley, OLWC Volunteer

My yards have always allowed me to “dispose” of leaves without banishing them offsite.  I didn’t set out intentionally to make it so – but rather somewhat backed into behaviors that I now accept as a good way to handle the annual leaf-dropping.  We currently live in a suburban neighborhood on a 7500-foot lot.  Along with generally moving toward more recycling and reusing, I began to think about what gets picked up curbside and noted it takes a long time to fill our debris can.  So, what do we do (or not do) with leaves and other yard debris?


Here is our Fall Routine:


  • In the front yard, streetside, are a very large Ash, a smaller Apricot tree, and several conifers.  Leaves from the Ash and Apricot get swept or raked off the street, sidewalk, and driveway into a ten-foot-wide natural area under the trees. That’s it!
  • The leaves that fall onto our small lawn (along with some from assorted bushes) get left. There are not that many and they get crumbled a bit by the push mower.  We do not have a mulching mower, although they are a great way to recycle leaves!
  • The rest of the side yard has assorted small bushes and lots of roses. The leaves get left where they fall.
  • The back yard has a fig tree and several japonicas (both with big leaves!).  I do collect them and toss them into a corner behind a brush pile. Leaves of the remaining bushes, small Japanese maples, and an old Lilac tree get left where they fall.  When we have a wind storm (or every couple of months), we pick up the small branches or larger twigs. Some get cut up to go into the debris can, and the larger sticks go onto the afore-mentioned brush pile in that hidden corner.
  •  Occasional pruning debris also go into the bin. The unused side yard opposite the street got planted years ago with Oregon grape and Flowering red currant, and again, the leaves stay where they fall. 

Clearly, we are not concerned with having the most well-groomed yard.  We are fortunate to be able to rake or sweep as needed.  We are disturbed by the popularity of leaf-blowers. There has been plenty written on this subject and my hope is alternatives will be embraced.