Ask Eco Ed: Is there a better way to dispose all those leaves?

Dear Eco-Ed:

I’ve been piling up all my leaves in the road.  Isn’t there a better way to dispose of them?  I’ve heard that the leaves can provide nutrients to my yard, and minimize the amount of chemical fertilizers that I’ll need to put in next year.

– Reducing Yard Waste

Dear Reducing Yard Waster:

Section of a part of your yard and begin composting. 

This is a question that comes up every year about this time.  Every year, I think it’s a shame when I drive through the streets of Bergen County and see all those precious leaves in the road, blocking traffic, causing water runoff hazards, and costing the towns money to pick them up, when a simpler, more productive option is so much more practical.  It is true that those leaves create vital nutrients for the soil.  By removing them, most people create the need to replace them with chemical fertilizers the next season.  An easier solution is to create an area in your yard for composting the leaves.  This area can be as simple as piling them in a corner, or by using a composting bin, which can be purchased in any garden or home center (or at the Bergen County Utility Authority at ½ price!).  The leaves can be picked up with a shredder or lawn mower, so that the sheer volume is significantly reduced.  This also jump starts the composting process, as the shredded leaves decompose faster.  Compost (or leaf mulch) is not soil. Soil is not made from minerals: sand, silt, and clay. There are good soils and poor soils, and gardeners will tell you that we can greatly improve the quality of the soil in our yards and gardens by increasing the organic content.  For additional information, or a detailed guide to composting written by Master Composter Gray Russell, please send request to

It is important to note that composting piles do not carry an offensive smell.  This only happens if you add a large volume of grass at one time, or kitchen scraps such as meat, bones or fish.  If you add grass clippings to the pile in summer, be sure to mix in the leaves, so that the “browns” and “greens” are balanced.

And here is the even better news on this subject:  Ridgewood has a top-notch facility where they create compost, mulch and wood chips.  This product is available to the residents at no cost!!!!  You may pick it up there, or they will even deliver it to your home, with proper notice and lead time!  The facilities are near the end Lakeview Ave, by King’s Pond.  You can reach them (the Street Division) at 201-670-5585.  Every time I find out about these additional services that Ridgewood offers, it makes me happier I chose to make Ridgewood my home!

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