11 Things You Should NOT Do With Your Fallen Leaves

Updated: Apr. 10, 2024

If you don't want to annoy your neighbors, harm the environment or create a health risk, avoid these bad practices for dealing with fallen leaves.

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Fall Leaves In Storm Drain
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Don’t Rake Them Into the Street

Many places have made it illegal to rake your leaves into the street. Leaves and other vegetation or debris swept into the street create an unsightly, soggy mess. But even more importantly, raking leaves into the street can block storm drains, which can result in flooding.

Editor’s Tip: With fall comes the promise of leaves, clumping up on your grass and matting down on your flowerbeds, check out these useful tools that will help you collect leaves.

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Don’t Burn Leaves in Your Yard

Burning leaves in your yard is illegal in many places. Irritants carried into the air by smoke can cause respiratory problems. It addition, the fire could get out of hand and sparks could ignite flammable items in your yard or your neighbor’s.

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Don’t Rake Them Into Your Neighbor’s Yard

Among the list of things you shouldn’t do if you want to remain on good terms with your neighbors, raking your pile of leaves (or blowing them) into their yard definitely ranks near the top!

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Don’t Throw Them in the Trash

Some cities have banned “clean and green” materials from residential garbage collection. Composting organic yard debris, like fallen leaves, conserves limited landfill space and produces a valuable resource! Instead, build a compost bin or use a yard waste service.

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Skip the Leaf Blower

Some places have banned leaf blowers because they’re loud and create noise pollution. They also stir up a lot of unpleasant dust.

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Don’t Forget to Shred Before Composting

If you already practice composting in your yard, remember to shred leaves before adding them to the pile. They decompose faster when shredded and it also prevents matting. Running the lawnmower over them quickly shreds them with little effort. You can also get a leaf mulcher for large amounts of leaves.

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Don’t Park Your Car Near Leaves

Parking on piles of fallen leaves creates a fire hazard. Dry leaves may ignite and the resulting fire can quickly overtake your car. Also, it’s best to avoid parking your car under trees that are shedding leaves, if possible. The leaves can cause stains and get lodged in air vents, so take a moment to pull them out before you drive.

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Don’t Forget Protective Gear

Wear protective clothing, such as gloves, shoes that won’t slip on damp patches and a brace if you have back issues. If cool temps haven’t eliminated flying pests, consider applying some insect repellent so you don’t end up with bites or stings.

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Don’t Rake Too Hard

When you rake, avoid working too vigorously or deeply. This can cause fatigue in your hands, arms, shoulders and back. While that may not sound too serious, this fatigue can cause you to throw out your back, particularly if you don’t maintain proper posture. Also avoid bearing down too hard while raking, and keep your knees bent and back straight — allow your legs to do some of the work. It’s good to drive the tines into the thatch layer to dislodge it, but don’t overdo it on tender, new grass.

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Don’t Forget to Use Biodegradable Bags

If your area doesn’t offer community composting, your bags of yard waste can end up in the landfill. Furthermore, if you don’t use biodegradable bags, then the bag and leaves become environmentally unfriendly.

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Don’t Dump Leaves “Down the Hill”

If you live above a ravine, dumping leaves down the hillside could destabilize the slope. While it may be tempting, don’t create a dangerous environment where people or animals might get hurt. Take care of your pile of leaves the right way.