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Don't Burn the Leaves

There are lots of options for taking care of the leaves and they are all better than burning them.

Many people complain about the amount of leaves covering their lawns this time of year. Fall is the best time to start composting.  If you don’t want to compost, simply mow the leaves right where they're sitting. A mulching mower or two passes with a regular mower works great. Cutting the leaves causes faster decomposition and adds valuable nutrients to the yard.

Of course there are the folks that have a dozen mature trees and tell us they can’t do either of these options or a combination of them.  Bagging leaves is more work but it ensures the leaves are taken to a compost site, where the nutrients they contain are recovered.

The worst thing to do is burn the leaves; not only because of the loss of nutrients but because they become a source of air pollution.  You might think it’s a harmless activity that many of our parents and grandparents did for years. For some, the burning of leaves is like a tradition and the suggestion that people cease burning them is disrespectful.

Please consider that we have far more people with asthma and other lung or breathing ailments today than in any time previous. The smoke from the burning of leaves contains particulate matter that enters everyone’s lungs downwind. The wind doesn’t recognize property lines and carries smoke for miles, often triggering coughing and breathing difficulties in people of all ages. 

Go outside, enjoy the autumn colors and try composting, mowing or bagging those falling leaves.  New Lenox Township and the Will-South Cook County Soil and Water Conservation District are among a variety of locations to purchase a compost bin to get started. Instructions for composting are on our website, under the education tab at www.willcountygreen.com  and questions are always welcome.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Marg October 13, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Thank you for posting this! My neighborhood turns into Leaf burning city this time of year...can't even keep my windows open, and the smell gives me an instant headache. I just don't understand why people have to burn.

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