Did you know that the average tree has more than 200,000 leaves? That means that the 203 million deciduous trees – those that shed leaves annually – solely in U.S. forests – drop 40 quadrillion leaves each year. No wonder they call autumn fall!
As many of your homeowner clients know, trees are the gifts that keep giving. As the longest-living species on earth, they never die of old age. Trees are awesome, providing a wide variety of fruits and nuts. And trees help build our homes. Based on data from the Idaho Forest Commission, it takes over 100 trees to create a typical 2000-square-foot home.
But trees can create quite a mess during fall. For example, piles of leaves can pose a danger to your health and home. In addition, dry leaves can start a fire, so experts recommend not parking a car on top of a leaf pile.
Wet leaves cause a different problem. They can be a home for mites, ticks, bacteria, and parasites that can thrive in a damp mound of leaves.
Proper disposal of leaves is vital. If you push them into the street, they can clog storm drains, causing flooding. Many places ban burning leaves. Burning also can contribute to respiratory problems, and floating sparks can cause other fires. Dumping leaves down a hill could contribute to destabilizing the slope.
While you could throw your leaves into the trash, here are four better ways to keep your fall foliage under control and benefit your home:
1. Start a compost pile: You can convert leaves into organic matter for your garden by creating compost. Gardens love organic matter as it builds healthy garden soil and contributes to moisture retention and soil aeration.
Because different leaves break down at different rates depending on their thickness, the best way to speed up the process is to chop or shred leaves before adding them to your compost pile.
2. Create “leaf mold” for your flower beds: Leaves contain 80 percent of a tree’s nutrients and minerals. When you recycle leaves into your garden, you provide nutrient-rich fuel. To preserve more nutrients, make leaf mold. What is leaf mold? Have you ever stepped on the floor of a forest that was spongy when walking? That’s leaf mold. Like a sponge, it can hold up to 500 percent of its weight in water.
You can make leaf mold by first chopping up the leaves. Next, stuff them into a black garbage bag. Compress the leaves as you fill the bag. Now pour water to wet the leaves until your bag is full. Then seal the bag and poke small holes to provide airflow. Finally, you can stack them in an out-of-the-way location in your yard. In six months, flip the bags. In a year or so, check to see if you have flaky, small brown bits – that’s leaf mold ready to recharge your garden soil!
3. Chop and mix leaves into your soil, adding some fertilizer to speed up decomposition: If you don’t have the space – or the patience – to create leaf mold, here's a shortcut you can use to put leaves to work right away. After chopping or shredding your leaves, mix in a bit of fertilizer. Spread the mixture around your garden and flower beds. The fertilizer will help break down the leaves into nutrient-rich matter faster.
4. Mulch it: The fastest, easiest way to take care of your autumn leaves is to mulch them. Small leaves can be raked throughout your garden and planting beds. You will have to chop up large leaves to use them as mulch. Remember not to pile leaves directly up against your shrubs or tree trunks. The best bet is to create a ring around larger plants and trees to allow airflow, speeding up leaf decomposition.
Just like taking care of the fall leaves can help protect your client’s homes, Cinch home warranty coverage can protect your buyers and sellers from unexpected breakdowns of appliances and systems during any season. Learn more at cinchrealestate.com.