Leaves are not the enemy

Debra Sherman is a Sacramento writer and leaf enthusiast

Leaves have been falling in droves and it’s a lovely sight, but there appears to be some confusion plaguing Sacramento’s residents.

The trees are not trying to hurt you. Leaves are not dangerous. Continually blasting them with a leaf blower, especially on windy days, will not kill them or make them disappear.

The leaves are already dead, so relax. Blowing them into the street or off your property line does not mean you win.

Leaves, tree branches and grass clippings are biodegradable. This is a big word, but it means that the leaves will decompose (or break down) and become part of the earth again—basically, dirt. This is a good thing.

Here’s the tricky part: Plastic bags filled with dog poop are not biodegradable, even if you hide them in leaf piles so your neighbor won’t see where you left them.

Please note: The plastic bag used to pick up dog poop goes in a garbage can. A garbage can is easily recognizable, usually a large green plastic container that sits along side houses and sometimes smells bad. However, if you deposit your dog-poop bag—also known as “garbage”—in the big green plastic container and shut the lid, you will not smell it anymore, nor will you or your neighbors run over it when they back out of the driveway. This small act of kindness can maintain peace and quiet within your neighborhood. Peace and quiet may not be familiar to you— but I digress.

It’s pretty simple: garbage bad, leaves good.

If this news about leaves is too unsettling, you might find raking very calming. A rake is a long slender tool for gathering leaves, not unlike a broom. Raking is good exercise. It requires no gasoline or electricity and makes little noise, other than a light scraping on the sidewalk. You may remember the lovely and antiquated sound from childhood. You may discover, if you dig through the clutter in the back of your garage, that you already own a rake.

To sum up: Sacramento’s leaves are not the enemy. Plastic is not biodegradable. Raking is good for your health.

Enjoy the lovely autumn. We’ll have this discussion again next year when—don’t panic—the leaves will return.