3 Better alternatives to burning leaves | Don't Take the Risk

Written by Gene Caballero on November 19, 2017

Why Burning Leaves is not worth the risk

So it’s that time of year again and the thought of spending your weekends raking and bagging leaves makes your stomach turn. I know what you’re thinking there has to be a better way, however let me caution you to resist the urge to rake your leaves into a big pile and lighting a match to burn them. Why is this the case?

It’s not the 1980s anymore and most cities and progressive municipalities are have local laws and ordinances in place banning the burning of leaves, even if you live outside of the city limits.

Why is this the case you might ask? 

Common school of thought these days is that leaf smoke is harmful to your health and due to its moisture content that can spread airborne particles causing infections and in general the smoke itself is not pleasant to breath in for children and neighbors.

Put another way.. Smoke from burning leaves contains toxic or irritating particles and gases that can increase the risk of respiratory infection.

If that's not enough another reason is that Carbon monoxide can result from incomplete burning, especially when leaves are wet. Inhaled carbon monoxide is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it can reduce the amount of oxygen that red blood cells carry.

It gets worse... When you burn that pile of leaves to make it disappear , you could be exposing yourself to potential liability should your fire get out of control, a fine from the local fire dept, or even potential smoke damage to your neighbors homes. So in addition to being viewed as an inconsiderate neighbor there could be financial liability that you’re exposing yourself to. So think about it burning that pile leaves could open your household up to a world of exposure that if you consider... it’s just not worth it.

So with that being said what are the better alternative to taking the easy way out and lighting a match on that pile of leaves.Well allow me to explain.  

These days most local municipalities offer curbside pick up and will vacuum up and dispose of your leaves free of charge.

If available in your city or town this is certainly the most logical way to dispose of your leaves. Collecting them blowing them off to the curb and letting the city come by every two or three weeks to suck them up certainly makes better sense than upsetting your neighbors and exposing yourself to potential liability.

Next.. if local city disposal is not available in your area the next best option is to mulch up the leaves back into your yard.

If you’re going to go this route I recommend investing in a mulching blade for your lawnmower.

No matter If you have a riding lawnmower or even a push mower you can get a specialized mulching blade that will double cut up the debris as you are mowing.

Why does this matter? Because your lawn mower with a mulching blade attached will chew up those leaves into small pieces then the best part is your lawn will then absorb the mulched up leaves and convert it into fertilizer.

But wait there's more… The key to success with this method is to make sure that you are mulching your leaves up every 5 to 7 days.

Simply stated if you wait too long between mulching up your leaves… they will pile up and get too thick and making it your yard's conditions to where mulching is not an option.

Bottom line.. If you cannot see any of the underlying grass or soil because all of your yard is completely covered with leaves then sadly mulching is probably not an option as it will bog you lawn mower down and will create too much debris for your lawn mowing and yards little ecosystem to handle.

However on the other hand.. if you’re diligent about it and are willing to mulch up your leaves of once a week during the months during the months of November and early December while the leaves are falling in your yard and this is by far the best method to safely managing your yards challenging leaf removal problem.

But here’s the kicker:

If you have let the leaves pile up too think and they are too much to handle by the mulching method then I recommend a third and better alternative to burning or even raking and sending bags of leaves off to the landfill.

Designate a corner of your property to creating a compost pile.

Compost Pile

This could just start off as just a pile of debris that over a year's time actually will compost and turn into a rich organic planting soil but you can reuse next year.

Another option that may work for you if you live next to a natural wooded area then you might consider blowing those leaves off into the wooded parts that are adjacent to your property can serve as a better alternative to baggy and certainly better than burning.In summary this day and age it’s simply not worth taking the risk of upsetting your neighbors and exposing yourself to uncertain liability for property damage by burning that pile of leaves.

Put another way.. Consider mulching, leveraging your local city’s yard waste disposal services, or composting your lease as better alternative to burning and upsetting your neighbors or even worse creating a bigger problem.




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