Throughout Oak Park, there are piles of leaves along every street. Everyone rakes/pulls/pushes or somehow gets the leaves that have fallen onto their yard down to the street and builds their own leaf mountain in front of their house. At some time in the future, huge trucks will push the piles of leaves into bigger piles and then lift them up and place them into dumpsters. The leaves will then be carted away to some far off place.

This past weekend, however, I discovered a better way. Do not rake, mow. That’s right. Break out your lawn mower and cut your leaves just like you do when cutting your grass. Try it. You will be shocked. I tried it for the first time this past weekend and all I kept saying was “Why did I ever rake?” There are several reasons why cutting your leaves (i.e. mulching) is far superior to conventional raking.

First, it is physically easier and involves virtually no risk of injury. You simply operate your lawn mower in the same way you do when cutting your lawn. A gentle push forward or a slight pull back. If the leaves are particularly thick at some point, you simply push the lawn mower back and forth allowing the motor blade to do the work. You would almost have to try to strain yourself.

Second, it is ecologically friendly and your green neighbors will be cheering for you. No piles of leaves in front of your house. No loud trucks and dumpsters to collect and move them. No concern about filling landfills. In the ordinary course of events (without raking), nature breaks leaves down to provide nutrients for your grass. By cutting your leaves into much smaller pieces, you are just helping nature’s ordinary process along. Mowing your leaves does nothing more than return to the earth that which fell from your trees. You can say it: “I’m green.”

Third, it is the least expensive means of removing your leaves. No one has to collect the leaves, move the leaves, dump the leaves, or dispose of the leaves. While I do not know the yearly cost for Oak Park’s leaf collection efforts, that cost will be removed from the taxpayers’ bill. In these municipal hard times, every expense should be studied and, at the very least, the people involved in Oak Park’s leaf collection efforts can be employed to do something much more productive and permanent.

Finally, there is simply no rational reason why we must remove our leaves instead of just cutting them up so that they can naturally break down and become part of the circle of life again. It may be too late this year, but make a commitment next year to mow your leaves. You too will ask yourself, “Why did I ever rake?

Robert Vogt

An Oak Park resident who no longer rakes

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