Tree Body of Palos Park
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TREE BODY NEWSLETTER
 
Donít Forget...Leaf Burning is Not AllowedZ
Burning leaves is a health and fire hazard. The smoke from burning leaves contains toxic and irritating particles that can accumulate in the lungs. These particles can increase the risk of respiratory infection. Leaf burning can be extremely hazardous for those who already suffer from asthma and other breathing disorders. Children, seniors and people suffering from chronic lung and heart disease are more affected from the smoke. Moist leaves, which tend to burn slowly, give off more smoke than do dry leaves. These moist leaves are more likely to also give off chemicals called hydrocarbons, which irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Some of these hydrocarbons are known to be carcinogenic.

Stay Healthy
Instead of burning your leaves, put them in your marked container for yard waste pick up. Allied Waste will pick up yard waste until the November 27/28th pickup. You can also compost the leaves yourself. Dry leaves alone will break down slowly over time, but you can speed that process by mixing the leaves with green plant materials, such as grass clippings, garden discards and produce scraps. Or you can add a source of nitrogen, such as livestock manure or commercial fertilizer.

Mix (turn) the pile occasionally to keep a good supply of air in the compost. A good-sized compost pile should be a minimum of 3 cubic feet. The compost will be ready to use as a soil conditioner in several weeks to several months, depending on size and management techniques.

Shredded leaves also can be used as a mulch around garden and landscape plants. Mulches provide many benefits, including weed suppression, moisture conservation and moderation of soil temperature. Leaves can be applied to dormant plants in winter to prevent young plants from heaving out of the ground. Leaf mulch can help keep soil cooler in summer. No more than a 2- to 3-inch layer of leaves should be used around actively growing plants. Chopping or shredding the leaves first will help prevent them from matting down and preventing air from reaching roots.

Directly applying the leaves to a garden or unused area of soil is another option. Try to spread the leaves over as large an area as possible, then till or plow them under. Chopping or shredding the leaves first will help them to break down faster. A final option is to simply shred the leaves through the lawn mower until the pieces are small enough to just leave them right there on the lawn! Dry leaves are much easier to handle through the mower than moist ones. If possible, remove the bagger so all of the leaves are deposited right back onto the lawn as they shred.