On a bike ride through JP yesterday, I noticed a lot of leaf blowing going on: At the MSPCA, at the Arboretum, in my neighbor's yard. I moved here from California in my twenties and I've always been a little shocked at how much labor goes into the yearly leaf cleanup in New England.
I don't mind raking, composting and bagging. It's a pleasant activity and good for the upper body. But the harsh whine of leaf-blowers seem uncomplimentary to Fall's beauty. Our nerves are assaulted by so much noise in modern life that it must affect our mental health.
Maybe worse, though, is that the small motors of leaf-blowers emit a lot of C02, the greenhouse gas that is warming the planet.
I appreciate that even a small yard requires hours of work to be thoroughly cleaned of leaves--is there another way?
When a leaf falls in the forest, what happens? It joins its kin on the ground. The floor of a deciduous forest is spongy and sweet-smelling soil, slow-cooking over the years.
What would our communities look like if we let the leaves lie? Many lawns would be "destroyed", gradually replaced by leafy layers of a more natural landscape. Streets, driveways and parks could still be raked, the leaves piled onto garden beds, or bagged for composting by the city. A few green spaces might be preserved as fields for soccer and frisbee, and the rest of us could consider recycling our lawns as flower or vegetable beds, planted directly into the natural mulch.
Come Spring, another benefit would be realized to our eardrums, our climate, our urban soil: Noisy, C02-emitting lawnmowers could be retired to the garage for good.
About JP Green House
Our century-old house served the Woodbourne neighborhood as "Jack's Corner Store" for 70 years. We bought it in 2008 out of foreclosure,and rehabbed it from a derelict state to be a model for low-carbon living. The house features passive solar design, super insulation, recycled materials, triple-glazed windows, a heat transfer ventilation system and an air-to-water heat pump for hot water.
We maintain an average indoor temperature of 63 degrees in the winter without a heating system. Our organic garden provides all the produce for our family from April to November.