November 5, 2013

Leaves and Needles Everywhere

By Rhonda J. Ferree
Univ. of Illinois Extension Educatore, Horticulture

Fall colors are peaking on trees in our area, but deciding what to do with all those leaves is often a challenge. Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, provides the following tips on fall leaf disposal.

Many municipalities or garbage-collection services offer leaf disposal options. “Check with your city or town for specifics,” says Ferree. Many people still burn leaves. Ferree points out that leaf burning is a controversial environmental issue. Many local governments prohibit or restrict leaf burning so check your town ordinances before burning. Ferree suggests using leaves as mulch for overwintering perennials or for beneath trees, shrubs, and other landscape plantings. If there aren’t too many leaves on the lawn, try grinding them with a power mower to let the tiny pieces fall between the blades of grass. A backyard compost pile provides an economical way to dispose of autumn leaves, while at the same time providing a source of organic nutrition for your garden. If you have white pines trees, you probably also have a lot of needle drop beneath those trees. Like leaves, the needles make a great mulch or compost material.

Ferree reminds us not to forget the beauty of fall colored leaves. “Leaves make great additions to fall decorations.” You can find other fun facts and ideas for fall leaves at a comprehensive fall foliage website by University of Illinois Extension called Miracle of Fall at The site has a listing of fall color updates for states across the United States. Another feature lists many major trees and shrubs with pictures of their fall color. You can also watch the changing leaves on foliage webcams.

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