In my four autumns of owning a home in Eden Prairie, my husband and I have never once collected leaves in paper bags and put them on the curb.
Lucky for us, there are several other ways to handle fall leaves that don’t involve the time-consuming task of bagging. Plus, some of them can help bees and other wildlife in the process.
Option 1: Transport them to the Eden Prairie Yard Waste site
The yard waste site, 9811 Flying Cloud Drive, is an exciting new city resource to help residents manage their yard waste throughout the year.
Eden Prairie residents may bring in many types of yard waste like leaves, sticks, lawn thatch, tree branches, logs, and wood chips. Homeowners must still collect and transport their own leaves, but you can do it on your own schedule without involving a waste hauler.
The site is open from 2-5 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Those bringing yard waste must provide proof of Eden Prairie residency to use the site, such as a driver’s license or utility bill. Landlords and business owners must provide a utility bill or business card with an Eden Prairie address listed.
For more information, visit the website or call 952-944-1071. The website includes frequently asked questions, important guidelines, and a complete list of what types of waste are not accepted.
Option 2: Use leaves in your garden
This is the method we use at my house. Leaves are free food for gardens and free mulch for under trees or in a pollinator garden. Simply collect the leaves and spread them anywhere that needs some extra mulch or organic matter.
A vegetable garden is an ideal place for leaves. Simply lay them atop the soil or till them in the fall or spring.
Option 3: Compost your leaves
Building a backyard compost bin is easy. Compost bins can convert leaves and kitchen waste into nutrient-rich compost. Use this compost to add valuable nutrients to the vegetable garden, flower beds, or the base of fruit trees and shrubs.
Option 4: Leave the leaves
Leaving the leaves where they fall provides important winter habitat for wildlife like butterflies, certain bees and other beneficial invertebrates.
Just a 2-inch layer of leaves can provide the conditions that these critters need to survive the winter.
However, even a thin layer of leaves can kill the grass under it, leading to a patchy lawn the following year.
For anyone wanting to “leave the leaves” without compromising lawn aesthetics, try it in an inconspicuous patch of lawn or pile your leaves in a non-turf area such as beneath a tree.
Option 5: Leave the leaves but mow them first
This is an OK option but has less environmental benefit than “leave the leaves.”
Run a mower at the height of 3-4 inches to shred the leaves and blow them back out on the grass. Like the “leave the leaves” method, moderate layers of shredded leaves will kill the grass. Plus, according to the Xerces Society, shredded leaves are less valuable for overwintering pollinator insects than whole leaves.