City set to begin its leaf campaign
You have two choices: Haul your leaves to the curb or leave them on the lawn.
If you leave them, make sure you chop them up. Whole leaves smother the grass, meaning you’ll have less lawn next spring, said Mike Maddox, a horticulture educator for UW Extension.
If you’re hauling to the curb, roll up your sleeves. The Gazette talked to a few leaf-collection veterans about the best methods of attack.
Rake and tarp
Jim Marchant, 3211 Shag Bark Court, deals with a lot of leaves—so many that his dead-end street narrows to 10 feet in fall because of leaf piles. His neighborhood’s productive oak trees have earned the respect of city collection crews.
“The guys last year who picked up our leaves, they said we won the record,” Marchant said. “I think we filled their truck.”
He rakes his leaves onto a tarp, a task that takes several days.
Marchant admits that he dreads the extra work. After he turned 80, “My wife said I shouldn’t do it, but I said I’m going to do it,” he said.
Marchant said one of the neighbors tried mowing the leaves, but there were too many. “Every 15 feet, he’d go to the curb to empty it,” he said.
Marchant has an alternative: a grandson with a leaf blower. But getting the grandson and the leaves to match schedules can be tricky.
Leaf blower and mulcher
Rob Calderwood, Marchant’s neighbor at 3210 Shag Bark Court, has used a rake, but that takes a lot of time. Calderwood favors the faster approach of leaf blower and mulcher.
The leaf blower pushes loose oak leaves and acorns into piles. The mulcher vacuums the leaves, sticks and acorns that are left, crunching them up and depositing them in a bag. Calderwood then dumps the contents in a pile at the curb.
If you’ve got lots of leaves, don’t use a small electric leaf blower. Calderwood’s gas-powered leaf blower lets him move around without a cord, and the backpack style keeps his hands free.
“If you spend all your days raking, it’ll take forever,” Calderwood said. “You’ll never get done in time.”
Barb Smith, 730 N. Ringold St., mows her lawn a lot—usually every other day “only because I hate having a dirty lawn.”
Smith has a small front yard, and her largest trees are a couple of maples on the terrace. She chases half her leaves into a pile with an electric leaf blower. The lawnmower handles the remaining leaves, chopping them up and sucking them into a bag.
Smith puts the chopped leaves on top of the pile to weigh down the larger, loose leaves.
“The big ones always seem to want to come back” on the lawn, she said.
Some people might be physically unable to rake or blow leaves. In those cases, it helps to have good neighbors.
If you do and you need help, don’t be afraid to ask the folks next door.
Smith, for one, usually mows her neighbor’s lawn after she’s done with hers. When she was younger, she mowed five lawns.
“If I’m watching the (grand)kids outside, I might as well,” she said.
Children and grandchildren
Louise Frechette, another neighbor of Marchant’s at 3222 Shag Bark Court, plans to take advantage of the city’s later pickup schedule.
Frechette has invited three of her four children and their families over for Thanksgiving dinner.
“I’m thinking they’re going to be out there raking; that’s what I’m thinking,” she said of the kids.
The city is scheduled to pick up her leaves a couple of days later.
Frechette usually rakes every year, but Thanksgiving will keep her busy this year. Her husband, Paul, broke his ankle, so he can’t help outside.
Don’t want to ask the kids or neighbors? Several lawn care services in Janesville will help you out for a fee, which depends on the number of trees and size of your yard. Stan and Stan’s Lawn Care, for example, starts at $30 for a small yard that has about three trees.
If you miss the collection
Most trees are losing their leaves now, but maybe your trees are extra stubborn. Here’s what you can do if you miss the city’s leaf collection, which starts Monday and runs through Tuesday, Nov. 27.
-- Between Nov. 28 and Dec. 8, you can haul your leaves to the compost site and demolition landfill, which will be open extra hours—8 a.m. to 5 p.m.—Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
-- You can bag your leaves for the bagged yard waste collection, which runs the week of Dec. 3 on your usual trash day. Brown leaf bags are available at most hardware stores. Bundles of limbs can be up to 4 feet long, 12 inches in diameter and 50 pounds.
Last updated: 11:13 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012