University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System: Water Quality and the Home Landscape

Sustainable Landscaping: Healthy Environments

On-site organic recycling

by: Carl Salsedo, Ph.D.

Extension Educator, Horticulture

Most gardeners know the value of recycling their grass clipping, plant prunings and leaves by composting, but many still buy commercial fertilizers because they don't have enough compost. Others give away their leaves away in the fall. Then they pay for bark mulch to spread under trees and shrubs where the leaves were removed.

Consider chopping or mowing the leaves with a lawn mower (picture) in the fall and then rake or blow them into the landscaping beds to use as mulch. Natural forest ecosystems function in this way. They were the first organic gardeners, recycling their own leaves and fallen twigs and branches.

Another way to recycle organic matte, eliminate large compost piles and save a lot of time is to create beds or areas in the landscape where materials can be recycled right where you are mowing or raking. Increasing the size and number of landscape beds helps decrease the size of the lawn and the need to care for it. Consider these natural are on the borders and sides of the property. In this manner all the leaves can and debris in the fall can be recycled in these areas.