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Tired of raking leaves into bags for disposal? Try composting instead

Compost bin full of leavesFall in Michigan means falling leaves. While most homeowners rake leaves for curbside disposal, many are turning to composting when they find out how simple and effective it can be.

"Composting is nature's way of turning your leaves and grass into a valuable soil conditioner," says Aaron Hiday, compost program coordinator at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

Compost has several benefits:

  • Saves you money by reducing the need for expensive bags and commercial soil additives.
  • Helps your garden and lawn by improving the fertility and health of your soil.
  • Saves water by helping the soil hold moisture and reducing water runoff, and
  • Benefits the environment by recycling valuable organic resources and extending the lives of landfills.

Getting started is simple. All you need is a pitchfork, rake and shovel, a compost bin and some soil. Compost bins can be purchased at a hardware store or made of inexpensive blocks, wire, wood, or snow fencing.

There are a few "dos and don'ts" for proper composting.

Do compost: grass clippings, leaves, weeds, garden debris, small brush, twigs, clean wood ash, sawdust, wood chips, eggshells, coffee grounds, and food waste.

Don't compost: whole branches or logs, pet or human waste, charcoal briquette ash, sawdust from treated wood, meat or dairy food items.

EGLE's handy Home Composting: Reap a Heap of Benefits info sheetprovides more valuable tips as does this short video.

If composting at home is not an option, check with your local municipality or recycler for yard waste drop-off locations. The Michigan Recycling Directory website also lists locations that take food scraps. (Select the "Organics" tab and then click on "Food Scraps." Be sure to verify with the location that it accepts food scraps before taking them to the location.)

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