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The Case for “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em”

In mid-October, the leaves of Pelham will start changing to their magnificent fall colors. By the end of the month, they’ll be through with their showy display and come raining down from the trees onto our yards.

How quickly they turn from nature’s delight to nature’s nuisance.

This year, instead of using noisy gas blowers to create massive leaf piles in the streets for the town to vacuum up into even noisier trucks, why not consider the eco-friendly practice of  “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em” (LELE), or mulching in place.

Not only is chopping up the leaves much more energy-efficient, but the resulting mulch nourishes your lawn, shrubs, and flowerbeds. Rather than running off when it rains, the mulched leaves break down in the ground and quickly improve the structure of the soil.

All you need for mulching in place is a regular lawn mower — or for finer fragments, a mower equipped with a special mulching blade attachment.

If you use professional landscapers, chances are they will have proper mulching equipment. When they run it over the leaf cover on a lawn, you probably won’t even notice anything different, as the leafy pieces are generally too small to be seen.

It sure beats moving the leaves into piles in the road, where they can create slippery driving conditions, clog storm drains, and lead to brush fires from hot car engines that pass over them. Half the time anyway, they just blow back into the yard, and then you have to remove the same leaves the following week.

More than two dozen towns or villages in Westchester County have adopted the practice of “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em.” You can learn more about LELE and get a list of local landscapers who offer mulch mowing by visiting www.leleny.org and www.ecopel.org.