City offers alternatives to keep leaves off the streets

Sunday, November 8, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — It’s fall. Leaves abound: Look up, look down — but mostly just down. While it’s a beautiful scene, something must be done with the multitude of leaves that litter the ground.

Here’s how the city recommends you dispose of leaves: Mow them, rake them, have them hauled away, drop them off or reuse them.

“The whole goal is not to put leaves out into the street,” Jill Stedem, spokeswoman for the city's Public Works Department, said.

Yard waste that is brought to the street can clog storm drains and affect water quality. Everything that enters a storm drain goes directly to local creeks and streams. It also diminishes the street cleaner’s ability to get their job done.

Remove the grass catcher on your lawn mower and have the leaves serve as a free source of mulch. 

If you rake your leaves, they can be hauled away during regular trash collection; remember to place anything too small to bundle in a bag or disposable container. 

Another alternative is to take leaves to one of two mulch sites, at Capen Park and Parkside drives. 

For residents with green thumbs, composting leaves is always an option. Form a pile 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall in your yard or in a wood or wire bin. Dampen the pile and let it sit, keeping it moist. 

Another method of composting leaves is to fill a large plastic bag with moistened leaves. Seal the bag and put holes or slits in it to allow for air flow. Let the bag sit and check it every month or two to maintain the moisture level.

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Sue Schuermann November 9, 2009 | 9:52 a.m.

Outside the city limits it is allowed to burn yard debris but people don't realize the health and environmental hazards of burning their leaves. The weather was so nice this past weekend but I had to keep all of my windows shut and stay inside due to the massive amount of smoke from half of my neighbors burning their leaves. Some of the piles that my neighbors had burning will burn and smolder for a week or more. My husband and I compost and it takes less time to fill our compost bin than it does for people to keep watch on their burning leaves. We then have free fertilizer for all of our gardens, trees and yards for the spring.
See the EPA's hazards on burning leaves:

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