Every year the garden sinks in a flood of leaves from trees and bushes. How to deal with it and, above all, the question: What to do with it?
In addition to the classic methods of removal with rakes and leaf sacks, the industry offers a motorized alternative to muscle power with what is probably the most controversial product in the horticultural sector, the leaf vacuum and blower. But when does it make sense to use the devices?
Unfortunately not all leaves are the same. Many leaves of plants such as chestnut, oak or walnut contain a lot of tannic acid and only rot slowly. These tree species in particular have long been very popular as singular trees in front of the house. So where should the leaves go?
Leaves in the garden: remove or leave?
If the slow rotting is not bothersome, the leaves can stay. But if there are sunnies in the area of the trees, it must be removed so that the young shrub shoots get light in spring.
If you spread the leaves on beds, it becomes a natural layer of mulch. And a small mound of leaves and branches on the edge of the garden doesn’t hurt either, because it also offers perfect protection for wintering hedgehogs, insects and other small animals.
Composting leaves: what should be considered?
The leaf waste can also be composted in smaller quantities. Basically, if you want to collect the leaves, do not wait long, because small animals and insects quickly settle under the leaves. Therefore, as soon as there is a certain amount of leaves on the ground, sweep them up and add a little rock flour to the compost heap.
The stone meal neutralizes the tannic acid and thus ensures faster composting. If you mix the foliage with nitrogenous garden waste such as lawn clippings, the process of rotting will accelerate. If you add horn shavings as a supplement, the microorganisms also convert it more quickly. Here you can learn more about making good compost.
On large plots of land there is often a lot of leaves that your own compost heap quickly reaches its limits. If there are large quantities of leaves, you should dispose of the leaves in the organic waste bin or give them to municipal collection points.
Is a leaf blower worth it?
However, if you want your garden or driveway clean, you have to sweep. In addition to plastic or metal rakes, gasoline-powered and now also battery-powered blowers have been around for a long time. In the past, these devices were reserved for municipalities and professional companies due to their acquisition costs. But with the production of cheaper devices, there are models for less than 100 dollar.
But these devices have it all – with air speeds of more than 200 kmh and suction capacities of more than ten cubic meters per hour, the devices take on the fight against the leaves. Not only the leaves fall by the wayside, but above all beetles, spiders and many insects that are important for soil quality. You can hardly resist the turbo blowing and suction flow. In addition, blowers with combustion engines emit harmful exhaust gases.
Loud and bad for the environment – leaf blowers have long been the subject of criticism. Many people are bothered by the very loud devices.
In addition to the destruction of small organisms, the noise emitted by these devices is often a stumbling block and the cause of many quarrels among neighbors. Leaf vacuums and blowers can be loud between 90 and 120 decibels during operation and are therefore on par with a petrol chain saw or a jackhammer.
Leaf blower: what should be considered?
Therefore, the legislator has clearly regulated the use of the devices in the device and machine noise protection ordinance of the 32nd Federal Immission Control Ordinance. The use of leaf blowers and leaf vacuums by private individuals in residential areas is limited to working hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. However, municipal employees and companies that remove the leaves on behalf of the municipality are exempt from this rule.
How loud can leaf blowers be?
There are no legal limits on how loud leaf blowers and vacuums can be. However, the European Commission plans to introduce noise limits for leaf vacuums and blowers in a future regulation. However, this regulation is not expected before 2020. Many cities in the US have long since banned the devices from their areas by ordinance.
Noise values like a circular saw – leaf blowers achieve very high values in their noise emissions and are therefore only allowed at certain times of the day.
In addition to noise and exhaust gases, leaf blowers also generate an air stream from the microbes, fungi and animal droppings in the leaves. Therefore, the operation of the devices is also a concern for users, as they inhale this air flow while working. All in all, these devices should be used with caution.
Burning leaves: allowed or forbidden?
Burning plant waste in your own garden is also not a good idea. This has been prohibited by the Recycling Management Act since 2015. Because after that, the burning of garden waste such as leaves, lawn, shrub or tree cuttings is not permitted and can be punished as an administrative offense and therefore with a fine if it is violated.
The smoke from garden fires pollutes the air with harmful substances such as fine dust. Leaves therefore belong on the compost or in the organic waste bin. Have a look at the waste calendar of your municipality, many municipalities offer a free collection of green cuttings and leaf sacks in autumn.