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Take charge of your growing leaf pile

By Tina Moessner

Get out of the leaf-pile blues and back to seeing leaves as the gold that they are with tips that replenish yards and protect our waterways.

1. Protect our waterways

When falling, crunchy leaves are everywhere, it’s easy to see “if it’s on the ground, it’s in our water.” If left alone, leaves can block storm drains and contribute to water quality issues. So, don’t let them collect near waterways, curbs or drains.

2. Replenish your lawn with grasscycling


Leaves can block storm drains and contribute to water quality issues. Photo by Wisconsin DNR / CC BY

One of the easiest ways to reap the benefit of leaves is to leave them on the lawn and mow over them. This can be accomplished with up to an inch of fallen leaves at a time. Grasscycling leaves and grass clippings returns nutrients to the soil and reduces the need for fertilizing.

3. Start a backyard compost

Look no further than your own backyard. An excess of leaves and yard waste can be composted with food waste in a backyard compost pile. The Johnson County K-State Research and Extension recommends composting yard waste to reduce the amount of waste entering landfills and for a finished compost that improves garden and landscape soils. There are many different types of compost bins, and the local extension Master Gardeners have tips to get started.

4. Use city yard waste collections

If your trees are large and leaf piles are high, take advantage of city services that will collect and compost them for you. Many local cities are now collecting leaf and brush waste that will be sent to large composting sites and turned into mulch and compost. For more information, contact your city or county directly, or check for collection facilities at

Kansas City, MO

Missouri Organic Recycling receives all of the yard waste collected in Kansas City, MO. Curbside collection with be held November 30 in north Kansas City, December 7 in south Kansas City and December 14 in central Kansas City. In 2014, the city collected 2,404 tons of yard waste. Residents can also drop off brush for free every Saturday at 1815 N. Chouteau Trafficway and 10301 Raytown Road. Learn more at

Johnson County

Johnson County residents can drop off yard waste with some local businesses, including:

          (816) 941-2438

          (913) 631-3300

  • Planet Marrs Recycling 2701 Roe Lane, Kansas City, KS

          (913) 888-0539

          (913) 971-9311

The City of Olathe collects yard waste at its composting facility for its residents. The materials are composted and offered back to Olathe residents free of charge. For more information, visit

Top photo: “Definitely Fall” by Kenny Louie is licensed under CC By 2.0.

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