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The season is upon us! The New York State fall foliage tracker is exploding with color – a few yellow zones, representing fall colors that are just beginning to appear, but many in orange, and some locales in full Technicolor (red). As the colors give way to cooler temps and the leaves begin to softly parachute their way to the ground, we’re all faced with a decision: Should I practice mulch mowing to allow the leaves on my property to follow the path nature intends, one where they fall to the ground and are recycled into nutrients that help improve lawn conditions, as well as support complex life-cycles, or should I hastily remove the leaves and ship them at great cost to a distant location?
By raking leaves and shipping them to distant locations, not only do we potentially create safety problems on our streets in connection with improper leaf pile placement, but the financial and pollution costs associated with transportation are significant. We also lose myriad benefits that would otherwise be realized by recycling leaves on-site. To compound the problem, because the leaves are not allowed to perform their natural function of replenishing the soil, we then have to use mitigation strategies to promote healthy lawns, like unnecessary fertilization and excessive watering – something those with a sprinkler system are acutely aware can be very expensive.
When fertilizers are used in lieu of allowing leaves to be recycled on-site, rain events carry excess nitrogen to distant locales, including Long Island Sound. There, excessive nitrogen has been proven to contribute heavily to the decline of aquatic ecosystems and the non-aquatic systems that rely upon them. A bad decision to rake and ship leaves to distant places has adverse cascading effects with profound consequence. As Long Island Sound ecosystems decline, water quality and human use of the resource also declines. Over time, the joy of birds singing and children playing along the beaches slowly fades. With each bed of sea grass that dies-off, the Sound becomes, ironically, more silent – a Silent Fall, of sorts, for those familiar with Rachel Carson’s masterful novel, Silent Spring.
So, please help to keep summers on Long Island, whether in Montauk, the Hamptons, or on day trips to Jones Beach, full of the sounds of nature, recreation, and life, generally. Take a look at the fine article written by the Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council on the topic of Leaf Mulching. If you are not already doing it, at least give it a try for two seasons. You can always go back to shipping your leaves away if it doesn’t work. Also, be cognizant of and practice sustainable landscaping practices.
Silent Fall isn’t a good outcome, so please make the best choice available and participate in mulch mowing – don’t blow it . . . mow it!
Fall leaf collection is about to get started. Please review the Leaf Collection Program rules and make sure that any landscaper you may hire is in strict compliance with all requirements.
Importantly, as a property owner, you are responsible for any violation your landscaper may commit while servicing your property; leaving them to their own devices may result in you receiving a summons for their violation, an outcome the Village wishes to avoid by imploring all persons to know and comply with the applicable rules. If you use a landscaping or snow removal contractor, please email the firm’s contact information, including email address, to the Scarsdale Public Works Department and we will include them in our proactive outreach and education efforts to help encourage compliance with local rules and regulations.
Here are the 2019 Leaf Program vitals:
Leaf Pick-up Schedule
Leaf Placement for Collection
Leaf Transfer Station: Opens Monday, October 07
Need Biodegradable Leaf Bags?
Either email Public Works, or call them at (914) 722-1150.