Autumn Leaves: Natural Critter Habitat Or Methane Making Solid Waste, Your Choice

Autumn leaves are relaxing, beautiful to look at, and may be best left in your garden. A new report from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discusses the potential environmental dangers that result from raking autumn leaves and disposing other yard waste in landfills. Many areas have banned autumn leaves and yard waste from landfills and the days of seeing bags of leaves, loose twigs and other yard waste piled up curbside are long gone. With new federal rules to protect the environment, many homeowners are unclear of how they are to dispose of their autumn leaves and yard waste. Now, the National Wildlife Federation states that the best method for disposing autumn leaves and yard waste is to leave them alone and let them deteriorate naturally.

Science shows that the buildup of autumn leaves and other yard waste piled up in landfills is a direct contributor to methane gas in the environment. When leaves and yard waste are left to deteriorate naturally, they provide an environmental boon and natural habitat for critters and creatures. The leaves deteriorate enriching the quality of soil and it doesn’t take more than mowing the lawn properly to help speed up the leaves’ natural decomposition process. When leaves are piled up in bags and taken to landfills they don’t decompose as naturally or quickly as they would when left in their natural state. Without the required circulation of oxygen to help the leaves and yard waste decompose, toxic methane gas builds up, contributing to harmful greenhouse gasses. Even when it comes to the choice of composting your own leaves and yard waste or letting them decompose naturally, decomposition is the preferred choice. A yard blanketed with autumn leaves also attracts natural wildlife and not only saves time in yard work, but provides a relaxing, scenic atmosphere that not only helps the environment but is aesthetically pleasing.

Autumn leaves can be used in several ways that not only help the environment, but make your gardening work easier. Autumn leaves make great mulch and can be turned into finely-shredded mulch for various areas of the garden. You can always add your yard waste and leaves to your own compost pile, ensuring that your soil has the nutrients needed for planting and sustaining plants and vegetables. Those who want to attract wildlife to their yards can use their yard waste to create natural habitats that will provide shelter to creatures. If you simply do not like the way autumn leaves look on your lawn, you can rake them and move them to one designated area where they will continue to decompose. Look for odd spaces in your yard where you can place the leaves in an inconspicuous manner.

What do you think about autumn leaves? Do you leave them in your yard and let them naturally decompose or do you find other methods for disposing them?

Check out the autumn leaves in the videos below.

[Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images]

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