You may recall, we live in a rather laid back neighborhood. By “laid back” I mean no crazy homeowners association with rules about what color Christmas lights are acceptable. Plus, the few rules we do have (for example: please don’t park on the street) are ignored by 2/3 of the neighborhood. So we consider ourselves fortunate to be flanked by neighbors who take pride in the upkeep of their homes and yards.
Their outside holiday decor is tasteful (and comes down when the holiday is past). They park in their driveways, as opposed to the street or their yard. When it comes time to mow, we never have to guess where our property line is – the distinctive line with rich, green, weed-free grass on one side and our grass on the other makes it very clear. But every fall they reenact the Myth of Sisyphus, using their leaf blowers to push any errant leaves from their yards to ours, only to watch the wind blow them back the next day.
From the day the first leaf falls until all our trees are bare, I have to fight the urge to rake and bag our leaves. I respect our neighbors’ hard work and know it must drive them crazy when our leaves blow onto their property. But we’re committed love ’em and leave ’em – letting our leaves fall where they may, then mulching, composting, or piling them as we’re able.
I know it sounds a bit tongue-in-cheek when I say I’ve given up bagging our leaves because I’ve gone green, but it’s true. Mulching fallen leaves (letting our lawn mower chop up and spew the leafy remnants back across the grass) is good for our yard. And the leaf layer is a mini-ecosystem, providing food and/or a habitat for all types of animals and insects, including chipmunks and earthworms, and next spring’s moths and butterflies.
Bagged leaves just add to our already overflowing landfills and don’t decompose inside those bags. Even the loose leaves sent to the landfill have trouble breaking down, because of the trash piled on top of them, depriving them of air.
So, please, love ’em and leave ’em. It’s one of the few times I won’t ask you to make something of it.