Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dog Walk Green Musings

Walking the dog tonight I was taken aback by the number of homes with piles of plastic bags full of fall yard waste.  The yards looked nice and neat (the bags not withstanding) but...

My city like most offers yard waste composting.  Very nice use of the yard waste and the landfill isn't filled with leaves and plastic.   Where I live, to take advantage of composting you have to haul the yard waste to the landfill yourself.  With that in mind it's pretty understandable that some folks would not take advantage of this service.   Even here in redneck Wyoming where everyone - even grandma - has a big frickin truck (and a shotgun).

Whats better is so simply logical that you will probably facepalm when you hear it.  I first read it when I purchased a house with a HUGE yard.  I have an acre of grass and trees...  At that moment I panicked a little and purchased a lawn tractor and a book on lawn care.

The two things in that book that stuck with me the most - cut the lawn as long as possible and leave the clippings.  I'd spent my whole lawn mowing life dumping clippings into those black plastic bags and always thought mulching was for some far away places where it actually rains.  Then I realized - that's what the city does in all the parks and what all the large lawns (including golf courses) do.  (with the exception of the greens)

I've been living here for more than a dozen years now and I constantly - well often anyway - get asked how I have such a green lawn - and I almost never fertilize.

The "secret"?  Leaving the clippings (mulch).  It keeps moisture in the lawn so you water less.  You are also not removing (throwing away) biomass (fertilizer and other soil nutrients).  You want green?  Stop killing the grass and throwing away all the good stuff.

The same holds true of fall leaves.  The trees worked hard all year to pull stuff up from the soil and store it in the leaves.  Now you are putting it in plastic and filling the local dump with all the goods from YOUR soil.  If you want rich dark soil and healthy trees - stop throwing it away.

You don't even need to do any fancy composting.  Just rake it up around the base of the trees.  Even better if you can run the leaves through a mulcher first to start the breakdown process.  If you have it - cover the leaves with pine straw and you will even make your mowing easier because weeds and grass won't grow around the base of the trees.   By late spring the leaves will be black, wet, and well on their way be being the best soil you've ever seen.

You will most certainly end up with piles bigger than you want to leave around the trees.  The rest of the leaves - just go over them with a mulching lawn mower and just forget that fall fertilizer you were going to put on.

See how simple it is to go green - and save yourself work and money too.  I guess that's a green geek tip.

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