If you've been raking leaves off your lawn this season and plan to bag them up...you may just want to wait. YNN's Elizabeth Jeneault spoke with experts Saturday who say that if used properly, those leaves can actually help your garden in the Spring.
NEW YORK STATE -- Raking leaves can be a back-breaking and lengthy process. Most people do it because they think getting those leaves off the grass is good for their lawn, but experts say that's not necessarily true.
"We recommend instead of putting your leaves out to the curb, to either use a mulching mower and mulch them in place in your lawn or rake them up to make compost," said Sayre Stevens, an Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension.
It's good to do one of those two things because the leaves have nutrients in them that are beneficial to both lawn and garden growth.
"So basically it's everything that was in the ground that the tree took up and put into the leaves. Now you're simply recycling it right back into the soil in your lawn," said Terry Ettinger, a horticulture consultant.
Recycling those nutrients back into the ground could even help prevent weed growth.
"Maple leaves in particular have what is referred to as an allelopathic affect where they can actually reduce the amount of dandelions in your lawn if you mow the leaves," explained Ettinger.
But if mowing the leaves isn't something you'd like to do, you can always rake them up, create a compost bin with inexpensive materials from a hardware store and let them sit in that bin until Spring. The leaves will decompose making great soil for when the weather warms up.
"It's really important to be able to mix your food waste with something like leaves so you can make a really good compost. You want to have about a two to one ratio of leaves to food waste," said Stevens.
Whether you choose to mow your leaves or use them in a compost bin, there's one thing you should know. "Don't rake them to the curb. It costs municipalities somewhere between $100 and $200 a truckload to collect, transport and process leaves," warned Ettinger.
Those leaves can also get stuck in storm drains, causing issues during heavy rains and at the water treatment plant.
If you do choose to mix leaves with food in a compost bin, make sure not to add any meats, dairy, fats or oils.