Managing Your Fall Leaf Litter

Tips for a better, cleaner lake:

It’s fall clean up time. That means raking leaves – lots of them!  For lakefront homeowners, it’s especially important to keep your fallen leaves out of the lake.  Wherever leaves land, they break down into nutrients and organic material- great for lawns and gardens but NOT for lakes.  Leaves are rich in nutrients, especially phosphorous, a long lasting nutrient that fuels the growth of unwanted algae.  It only takes one pound of phosphorous to produce 500 pounds of algae!

DON’T blow or rake leaves into the lake.  It’s also important NOT to burn leaves, as that releases large amounts of air pollutants.  Then the ashes wash off into the lake, carrying large amounts of phosphorous and other harmful materials with them. (That’s also why you don’t want campfires by the lakeshore.)

Instead, here’s our Lake Lovers’ Tips for managing your fall leaf litter:

- Mulch your leaves in place with a mulching mower.  The mulched leaves will decay quickly, fertilizing your lawn naturally. Mulched leaves may also be placed in garden beds. By mulching them first, they are less likely to blow away.

- Compost your leaves. Compost enriches garden soils by providing organic matter and plenty of natural nutrients.

- Collect the leaves and take to a composting site.  For example, residents of the town of Fox Lake can take their leaves to the town hall on County Road F.

- Keep driveways, streets and catch-basins free of leaves. Leaves left in the street make a phosphorus-rich tea that washes down storm drains and directly into our lakes.   

 Don’t let leaves litter (and pollute) our lakes!