Itty Bitty Bonzai #15

November 17th, 2009 - filed under: Furthermore » Itty Bitty Bonzai

Itty Bitty Bonzai is a collection of tiny tips and tricks for living a life more mindful. Small actions, collectively and compounded, become a powerful force of change.


Autumn is my favorite season for many reasons, not the least of which is the leaves. Yellowing, darkening into crimson tree-toppers, and then finally . . . falling.

If you’ve got these seasonal scallywags littering your lawn, please use a rake to tidy them up. Aside from being a terrible noise nuisance, those gas-powered leaf blowers spit out as many toxic emissions in an hour as a car would by driving for 350 miles! And all of it right into your airspace.

So once you’ve got your leaves all piled, what will you do with them? Burning them is a no-no, as it creates massive air pollution and poses the risk of igniting a wild fire. But throwing them in the trash will just contributes to a landfill. So what to do?

If you garden, you can use them! Leaves make a great mulch or winter cover. Just spread a thick layer over all your dormant beds. Or, go over them with a mulching mower to cut them up real tiny-like. Then sprinkle those clippings across the grass, as ‘lawn feed’.

Of course, you could always toss the leaves directly into your compost bin. Still not composting? Many cities will pick up yard waste along with trash and recycling, since they use it in parks and city projects (as well as resale). So give your local government a call to find out if there are programs available.



  • Nathan

    Green building made me buy a leaf blower!
    Here in the DC area, the Chesapeake Bay and Anacostia River are very threatened by chemicals and silt build-up from stormwater run-off. So instead of paving the driveway on my brand new eco-manse, I put down two layers of cardboard (from appliance and flooring boxes) to act as landscaping fabric, then covered it with river stone gravel. This will allow rain water to percolate down through the ground, recharging the aquifer, feeding the trees, and keeping that much more crap out of the river and the bay.
    So what’s that got to do with leaf blowers? I can’t get the leaves out of this large diameter gravel with a rake, and if I just leave them there they’ll compost into a nice weed bed in a few years. So I went the greenest route I could with a power tool: my new plug-in electric leaf blower is also a mulching vacuum, so I suck the leaves off the gravel and dump a fine mulch from the collection bag onto the garden beds, as you suggest.

  • Sayward

    @ Nathan – That’s awesome! Wow, I had no idea they made electric versions! That sounds like a really great tool, thanks for the heads up. And congrats for going the green route. I love hearing this stuff! =)