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Pummel, Don't Pile Your Autumn Leaves In Scarsdale

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Although Scarsdale residents are enjoying the shade and splendor of the trees in their yards during this heat wave, the leaves on those trees are going to be in a pile on the lawn as the summer gives way to the fall.

When that happens, the Village of Scarsdale is doing all it they can to encourage homeowners and landscapers to make the most of those leaves, using them as mulch, instead of placing them at the curb to be collected.

Local landscapers, and representatives from the “Leaves: Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em” ( LELE ) program instructed all interested parties in the values and importance of mulch-mowing at an instructional session on Wednesday. The process takes the leaves and pulverizes them, re-distributing their nutrients back into the earth.

MJ Wilson, of the Irvington Green Policy Task Force and LELE, said that there is no downside to adopting this practice. When leaves are pushed to the curb, they are prone to blocking storm water access to catch basins or ending up in the streets obstructing traffic. The village is spending $760,000 on leaf removal this year, and Westchester County will spend an estimated $4 million.

“This can significantly reduce the amount of leaves that are added to the waste stream and reduce municipal cost,” she said. “It saves landscapers time and money. It’s good for the environment, feeding trees and lawns.”

Professional landscapers can make the switch to on-site mulching by simply installing gator blades on their lawnmowers, which utilizes the extra horsepower to turn leaves and grass into soil-feeding dust. Homeowners can make use of those same blades, but may have to go over areas more than once.

“Anyone who tries it will see a difference in two seasons. It’s easy and reduces the noise from leaf blowers,” Tim Downey of Aesthetic Landscaping in Hastings-on-Hudson said. “There is no downside if it is done properly.”

Anne Jaffe Holmes, of the Greenburgh Nature Center said that it is not a requirement that homeowners and landscapers make use of the mowing technique, just something that is strongly encouraged to benefit all parties involved.

“It’s not mandatory,” she said. “It makes so much sense for everybody that we want them to adapt voluntarily. We think it will come with just a little bit of time.”

A demonstration was planned but could not go on as scheduled on Wednesday afternoon because of the inclement weather.

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