In Melbourne it seems summer is over and Autumn in on its way…soon we will see the leaves turn from green to those beautiful shades of reds, oranges, yellows and browns. They may look pretty as they fall off the trees but as they litter the streets, foot paths and of course your lawn, they do become a bit of a pest.
So what’s the best way to deal with Autumn leaves? Let’s take a look at some environmentally responsible ways you can utilise or dispose of them:
Autumn leaves – composting
Composting leaves is a great way to make a rich organic fertiliser for your garden. When the leaves have turned brown rake them up and shred them with either a leaf shredder or lawn mower. To make an effective fertiliser it’s important to maintain a balance between carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials. The brown leaves are rich in carbon so we need to add nitrogenous ingredients such as grass clippings, fruit/vegetable scraps or coffee grounds to the leaves.
Mix the pile together well and continue to turn over every few days to make sure things breakdown evenly. Cover the pile with a tarp and wait for the magic to happen. It should take approx. two months for the compost to be ready to use – just in time for Spring! You’ll know it’s ready as it will start to smell earthy and will be dark brown in colour.
Autumn leaves – mulching
Mulch works as a protective barrier on top of the soil to keep moisture in and reduce weeds. Rather than ducking down to your local Bunnings to buy some mulch, if you have a good pile of dried leaves – why not try your hand at making it?
Simply shred the leaves with a leave shredder or lawn mower and mix together with wood chips and grass clippings. This mixture can then be added to the top of your soil for protection. If you start to see the mulch decomposing it’s time to make some more and replace this stuff – unlike compost we do not want the contents to break down.
Autumn leaves – art and craft
If you have children there are loads of art and craft projects you could use some of your Autumn leaves for to make fun, colourful pieces. If you are that way inclined you could even use your Autumn leaves to make your own potpourri.
Autumn leaves – disposal
If you are unable to utilise your Autumn leaves and need to dispose of them, please make sure you do so responsibly. Most councils offer a green waste collection service (for example, Glen Eira Council offers a 240L bin for a fortnightly collection). Please ensure you do not overfill your bin as leaves and green waste are very heavy. If you have bulk green waste to be collected on a regular basis, please contact KS Environmental.
It’s important you do not dispose of any green waste in your general waste bin – when green waste is buried in landfill it undergoes anaerobic decomposition (because of the lack of oxygen) and generates methane which is a very potent greenhouse gas.