Leaves, Leaves, Go Away
As a property owner/manager, when you see leaves on your site, you probably see mess. Leaves seemingly cover the lawn, clog gutters, stain sidewalks, and can even present a slip hazard when wet for weeks. Image and appearance are critical to attracting tenants and visitors, so it is usually not practical to allow leaves to remain scattered around a commercial property, and leaves that accumulate on turf areas can quickly suffocate the delicate grass below. As a commercial landscape maintenance contractor, the expectation and direction is often to just make this seasonal nuisance go away.
When You Can – Leave the Leaves
Apartment communities, retail centers, and office complexes don’t typically have locations on site where leaves can be stored, composted, or decomposed. In these situations, leaves have to be removed to maintain a neatly manicured landscape. There are other types of commercial properties like HOA’s, colleges and schools, or military institutions that may have the space to create a composting location. Regardless of which category of commercial property we may service, there are steps that can be taken to recycle this very valuable resource.
- Mow grass using mulching kits or gator blades – especially during the fall. These are modifications to a standard mowing deck that essentially suck leaves up and pulverize them before returning them to the soil surface. By chopping the leaves into smaller pieces, it speeds up the decomposition process. As the leaves break down, they return vital nutrients back to the root zone of the turf and can actually help to enhance the overall turf health.
- Leave the leaves in the woodlines. Allowing the leaves to blanket the ground and go through the natural process of decomposition helps to support the natural ecosystems that exist. Leaves become food for the microbes in the soil and in turn, return vital nutrients the soil which are later absorbed by tree and understory plant roots thereby completing the cycle.
- Don’t allow residents or your landscape contractor to put leaves and other landscape debris into a dumpster. Make sure they are employing good environmental practices.
Just the Facts – Where the Leaves Go
It would seem that commercial leaf removal would be the easiest thing a commercial landscape maintenance contractor does each year…it’s just blow leaves into a pile and suck them up right? That’s where the story ends. Or is it? There’s one important logistical challenge to overcome and that is where do the leaves go once the truck is loaded?
The facts are these – an average of 13.3% of municipal waste produced in the United States is yard debris but the number of landfills in the US has decreased by 75% over the past 25 years.
So what happens to all of the waste, trash, and debris? In a traditional landfill situation, leaves would be buried and the decomposition of the leaves coupled with the other trash emits harmful methane gas into the atmosphere. Many locations no longer allow recyclable materials to be buried, but there is typically a fee to dump those materials to offset the costs of recycling them.
The environmental impacts coupled with the rising costs of disposal forced Complete Landscaping to look for yet another solution – one where the costs could be mitigated and as a commercial landscaping company, we could benefit from the product that we were dealing with which was chock full of nutrients.
Complete Commits to An In-House Recycle Program
Nearly two decades ago, we created a location at our corporate headquarters to collect and process yard debris from the services that we performed annually. This includes grass clippings, branches and tree trimming debris, and, of course, leaves. Leaves no longer go into municipal waste dumpsters or get taken to county or state facilities for recycling. It’s another way we are providing Green Peace of Mind.
Leaves removed from our commercial clients’ sites are brought back to our recycling facility where they are ground, filtered, stacked and allowed to decompose into leaf compost. This leaf compost is then pH balanced and returned to the landscape in the form of leaf compost and soil amendments. These products are added to landscaping beds, used to topdress turf areas during restoration or establishment, and mixed with other organics to create a potting mix for custom grown container plants. From the first season until now, the recycling facility has grown to approximately 4 acres and processes thousands of yards of leaves into compost each season.
If you want to know more about how Complete Landscaping can bring Green Peace of Mind to your commercial property, please contact us.