Leaf disposal: corrals and composting

Before you know it, autumn will be here. It’s not too soon to start thinking about how you will deal with all those fallen leaves.

Keep your leaves on your lot if possible

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/7806641[/vimeo]

The Borough and the Township would like more residents to compost their leaves themselves, rather than putting them out in heaps on roads to be taken away.

This is for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Leaf piles on roadsides can be traffic hazards, particularly to cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Leaves on roads often wash into storm drains, causing drainage issues.
  • Leaf removal takes considerable energy. Not only do the collection trucks require gas, but shredding and piling of leaves at the composting facility also requires machinery that uses considerable energy.

Not everyone has a lot that’s suitable for keeping leaves “at home”. But may of us do have a corner or two that could be used for turning all those leaves into something much more useful: compost.

Turn leaves into compost using a leaf corral

Green plastic fencing and metal posts form a leaf corral

A leaf corral is a simple enclosure used to contain and compost leaves. It can be made from fencing, chicken wire, pallets or similar material (download instructions on building a leaf corral; 100KB pdf). The compost can then be used as a mulch or soil supplement in your yard or garden.

To speed the process of composting, you can shred the leaves before putting them in the corral. But you don’t need to do this: they will just take longer to turn into usable compost.

If you want, you can also put vegetable waste from the kitchen into the leaf pile. This is something that at least some residents are trying:

“My pile uses most of the leaves from my yard plus vegetable and fruit scraps from my kitchen. … This mixture plus turning the pile a few times (maybe 3-4 times in warmer weather, not in the winter) seems to do the trick. It takes my pile 1 full year to be ready.” Heidi Fichtenbaum, Princeton resident.

In September 2010, Sustainable Princeton began distribution of free leaf corrals to approximately 50 households in Princeton Township and Borough. These households will soon be reporting back on how the composting process is going.

Can you share leaf composting tips?

Are you already composting leaves? We’d love to hear  your thoughts, tips, questions and ideas.

Please send comments and photos of how you like to compost to Andrea Malcolm at abmalcolm282@verizon.net . We’ll collate all the responses and post information on this website.

This video gives more details of the Township's bag collection program:

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/7806543[/vimeo]

Bags rather than leaf piles

If you live in Princeton Township and aren't able to keep leaves on your property, you could dispose of them in biodegradable bags rather than by heaping them at the curb.

Princeton Township gives away a fixed number of bags to residents, and runs weekly bag collections for 10 weeks each fall (compared with just 2 collections for piled leaves).

Loose leaf collection

Both the Township and the Borough collect loose leaves a few times each fall. If you are unable to keep leaves on your plot and can't use bags, you can put leaves out for collection at the curb.  Please keep rocks, sticks, grass clippings and other debris out of leaf piles, and follow regulations on when and how to pile leaves at the curb.