Mulching, composting are cost-effective options

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By Christin Herbst

Autumn is a beautiful time in Kentucky.  As you drive around Carroll County, take notice of the changing colors of the trees that are beginning to show.

Our gardens and lawns can also be very attractive during this time, but they can also be messy, with piles of leaves from our trees and spent shoots from our flower beds. 

The way we address this yard waste can have a significant impact on our gardens and the environment.

Gardeners commonly rake up and bag leaves to be hauled away to yard waste dumps.  This option, while tidy, uses a lot of energy, both yours and the energy to transport the leaves and mixed garden waste.

Mulching leaves and yard waste is another option.  Why not use this bountiful resource to enrich your lawn and garden and create less waste and air pollution?

A very simple technique with leaves is to rake them into a line and mow over them with your lawn mower. 

The mower will chop the leaves into pieces small enough to fall between the blades of grass in your lawn.  The chopped leaves will break down out of sight and provide nutrients to your lawn and improve the quality of your soil.

For larger items like spent flower stalks, composting is a simple, easy and environmentally friendly option.  Proper composting produces no odor and provides you with a generous amount of nutrient-rich organic compost for your garden which reduces or eliminates the need to buy fertilizer.

Composting also eliminates the need to transport garden waste, making composting a triple-win situation for your garden, wallet and the environment. 

The speed of compost production is influenced by the size of the material placed in the bin, so the more you can chop up the garden debris, the quicker you will have usable compost.  Many options for compost bin design and construction are well suited to any location and budget. 

Turning leaves into mulch has many benefits.  The mulch helps retain moisture in the soil and insulates plants from extreme winter temperatures.  The decomposed leaves become an excellent conditioner for warming spring soil helping to attract worms and other beneficial microorganisms.

For more information on mulching and composting, contact the Carroll County Cooperative Extension Service at (502) 732-7030.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

Dates of Interest

  • Oct. 13:4-H/FFA Livestock Clinic, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Carroll County Fairgrounds. Any 4-H or FFA member interested in learning about showing livestock can call the Carroll County Extension Office to sign up for the clinic.
  • Oct. 16:Carroll County Extension District Board meeting, 5 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office.
  • Oct.16:Master Stocker Program, Session three of eight, 6:30 p.m., Boone County Extension Office.
  • Oct. 16:Carroll County Extension Council Meeting, 7 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office.
  • Oct. 29:Carroll County Cattleman’s Association Meeting, 6:30 p.m., at the Carroll County Extension Office.

 Christin Herbst is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to Christin.Herbst@uky.edu.