GREENBURGH, NY As the Greenburgh Town Board searches for the easiest, fastest and most economical way to dispose of fallen leaves, the answer might be to simply leave the leaves on the ground.
At a recent board meeting, the town's "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em" Committee proposed an eco-friendly solution that could save the town an estimated $300,000, and the county a total of $4 million, if they adopt the idea.
The method is to run a lawnmower over the leaves, crushing them into dime-sized bits into the lawn. The shredded leaves act as fertilizer to the grass, holding moisture and nutrients. A Cornell study found that over a three-year period, lawns with leaf mulch outperformed the lawns without.
"As a gardener and a homeowner, I'm completely sold on this," said Cathy Ludden, a member of Greenburgh's Climate Action Task Force and Westchester's Native Plant Center advisory board. "It makes perfect sense. As a taxpayer in this town, I would really like to see this town board adopt a resolution that would encourage all of the town's departments, schools, parks and private homeowners to adopt this practice."
Mulching proves to be faster than regular fertilization and leaf disposal, said Tim Downey, owner of Aesthetic Landscape Care and Greenburgh resident who has studied mulching for approximately 10 years. Additionally, mulching costs the same amount as other methods.
"There's no comparison in terms of collective time savings," Downey said. "There's no downside to this whatsoever."
However, the town board expressed concern over switching to mulching as some residents might not be onboard with the idea right away or might simply prefer their own method. Town Supervisor Paul Feiner suggested that homes or whole communities volunteer to mulch their yards while others observe the results.
While Feiner supports mulching, he said that most residents will not mulch unless the practice is mandated.
"We've been asking people to recycle for decades, and there are still a lot of people who don't recycle," he said in comparison.
But with Irvington's recent change to mulching, said MJ Wilson of Irvington's Green Policy Task Force, Greenburgh residents might see their success and want to use the method.
"It might not be as hard of a push as we had originally thought," Wilson said. "[Some people] didn't know any different and they thought their lawns looked great. So it's basically a very simple practice and a practical one."
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