The trees look beautiful this time of year, but all that fall color eventually ends up on your lawn and driveway. Leaf litter can pose a serious problem to our storm sewers, roadside ditches, and streams. Never place leaves into or near storm drains, ditches, or streams. Leaves washing into ditches or the street can clog storm drains, causing backups and flooding.
Excess leaves and lawn debris placed near streams or on steep slopes can also cause problems. Plant roots help to hold the soil in place, so raking your leaves and lawn debris over steep slopes can smother and kill vegetation and make erosion worse. Decaying leaf litter in a stream uses up the water’s oxygen, harming stream inhabitants that need the oxygen to breathe.
Make sure to follow the guidelines of your community for leaf removal. If your community has curb-side pickup and you’re asked to put leaves in the street, wait until just before collection day to minimize the chance of leaves getting washed out into storm sewers and ditches.
An easy way to reduce the amount of leaf litter is to mulch them! Turn your leaves into mulch by running over them with your lawn mower at next cutting. Leaves and grass clippings are a great fertilizer for your lawn. Another natural method is to start your own home compost pile. Leaf litter can be composted into a free, rich, organic fertilizer that your garden will love next spring.