Leaf them alone: Mulch leaves rather than removing them

It's a task that many of us dread as fall turns to winter: raking leaves into huge piles, stuffing them into endless brown paper bags, raking up the excess leaves that got scattered in the bagging process, bagging them up, repeating the next day when more leaves fall. So it will come as a relief to some of you to know that you don't have to do it at all. In fact, environmental experts actually recommend against raking and bagging leaves. Instead, they recommend leaving them in place, then going over them with a lawnmower with a mulching blade attached.

The benefits associated with mulching rather than raking leaves are numerous. According to the National Wildlife Federation, fallen leaves provide a rich habitat for small wildlife, such as salamanders, toads, butterflies, shrews and chipmunks. In turn, this habitat enriches the soil and fertilizes the land for the coming year, improving the appearance of lawns and gardens — so if you're worried that mulching won't be as aesthetically pleasing as removing leaves, just wait until next year when your garden will be blooming better than ever before.

Moreover, the environmental and monetary costs associated with the removal of all those bags of leaves are absurdly high for something that isn't absolutely necessary — the cost to town and city officials of hiring leaf removal contractors can reach into the millions of dollars. On top of the financial cost, there is also an environmental cost that comes with using large vehicles to haul leaves away.

One New York landscaping contractor summed this up neatly in a New York Times article: "It's utterly insane to be driving tractor-trailers 90 miles away".

If you're looking for more ways to make your home more energy efficient this winter, consider scheduling an energy audit with Alban Inspections. We'll make recommendations based on the particular situation in your home.