Autumn Yard Work Without the Pollution

Photo: edenpictures / Flickr

Each fall, leaves turn from a summery, fresh green to autumnal, rich reds and yellows. As homeowners tackle the job of raking leaves, clearing gardens, and cleaning yard debris, they create a lot of noise and pollution. In fact, one gas-powered leaf blower can emit as much pollution as 80 cars! Here are some tips for a quieter, cleaner way to maintain the yard:

Choose hand-powered or electric tools over gas:

  • Leaf blowers: Rakes are effective, and cheaper than using a leaf blower. Plus, you get a chance to burn some extra calories! If you need a power tool for a hard to reach spot (like your roof, or in between shrubbery), try an electric leaf blower rather than a gasoline-powered one. Electric leaf blowers are usually quieter, more energy-efficient, and get the job done just as well as their high-powered counterparts.
  • Garden trimmers: As an alternative to more energy-intensive trimmers, you can also try electric trimmers. Or, if you want to be a retro gardener, use manual shears to trim back evasive bushes and carefully prune your favorite tree.
  • Lawn mowers: Many yards are small enough that a hand-powered lawn mower does the job. Hand-powered lawn mowers are very quiet, replacing the roar of a power motor with the quiet whir of the lower-tech model. If you have a larger yard or one that requires heavier maintenance, research electric lawn mowers which make less noise and have a lower environmental impact. 


Hire neighborhood kids to help:

If you don’t have the time or energy to clean up your yard after a long work week, support the local economy by hiring kids in the neighborhood to help you with your yard work. Not only is it affordable, but it’s also more ecological!


Compost as much as possible:

Compost Instead of putting your leaves, branches, and weeds into plastic bags only to be picked up by trash collectors, consider turning this lawn “waste” into nutrient-rich soil ready for your spring garden! Collecting compost is quite easy and can save money on soil and fertilizer when it comes time to start your garden after the cold season.

Almost everything in your yard is compostable (grass and plant clippings, leaves, dead or brown weeds), except for weeds that have seeds or pernicious weeds (i.e. ivy) that can withstand composting. Mix in some of your kitchen waste as well – fruit and vegetable peels, teabags, and coffee grinds – to increase your yield.


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Thanks for sharing this great idea for those in our community who may have livestock like chickens. Keep those tips coming!

Dan Courtois

I like to run all of my green waste through one extra step on the way to our organic garden. Since I was a little boy, we were able to have a few chickens. The "Girls" just love going through the lawn clippings (chemical free of course) and other leaf matter looking for chow. Even if they do not eat parts of it, their scratching and digging breaks the mix down faster. I also like to place leaf matter under their roosts so that nitrogen rich droppings quickly mix with brown materials. This has really worked for us.

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