The City of Madison is kicking off a new program to encourage Madison residents to manage leaves on their property. The program, called Leave the Leaf, is designed to reduce phosphorus runoff from leaves, improve the quality of area soil and lawns, and reduce the need for more leaf collection trucks and staff.
The 20th Century attitude towards leaves was that once they fell they created lawn litter and had to be removed. It’s a new day, and time for some new thinking. It is time to view leaves as an asset that can be used to improve your lawn and reduce the use of chemical fertilizers. Leaves also make great mulch, garden cover or rich compost.
Why Leave the Leaf?
Fall leaves add great beauty to our surroundings in Madison. Unfortunately, they also contribute a large volume of material that we have to collect and haul to the compost sites. The same leaves that add color to neighborhoods in fall also add color to our lakes in the summer - and that’s a problem.
When you pile your leaves at the curb for City collection each fall, those leaf piles are exposed to rain which seeps through the piles, making a rich nutrient tea that flows along the curb into storm drains and then to the lakes. Those nutrients are a significant contributor to the algae that turns our lakes into a green smelly mess in the summer.
How to get started
We know that many Madison homes produce too many leaves to be composted or mulched on site. But, any amount of leaves that you can handle at home will benefit the environment and help save tax dollars. Here are a few ways you can handle leaves on your property: