Jim McCausland

Gather leaves in these contraptions

Jim McCausland and Lauren Bonar Swezey,  – November 11, 2004

When autumn leaves carpet your lawn in shades of red, orange, yellow, or brown, you know you have a busy Saturday ahead. If you don’t quickly remove the fallen leaves, rain can turn them into a sodden mat that will smother the grass beneath. A number of leaf bags are designed to help you gather and haul leaves. Made of sturdy, woven plastics, these bags are collapsible for compact storage. The ones shown here are widely sold at home and garden centers and nurseries.

Kangaroo Bags (top left in photo) are essentially soft-sided trash cans that collapse to 3-inch-thick disks you can hang in the garage. They pop up again when you release two toggle-and-loop closures. Made from mildew- and tear-resistant vinyl-coated polyester, they come in two sizes: 10 gallon ($20) and 30 gallon ($30; shown at top left in the photo). The smaller size is fine for spot weeding, but the larger one, which can be lined with a 33-gallon plastic garbage bag, is the bag of choice for serious fall cleanup. Fiskars: (800) 500-4849 or www.fiskars.com.

Bosbag (lower left in photo). Once this self-supporting, polyethylene container is fully open, it can hold up to 3.5 cubic feet of leaves or weeds ($15; shown at right). The manufacturer also sells a 5.3-cubic-foot version ($17). Bosmere: (888) 784-1608, (704) 784-1608, or www.bosmere.com.

Tip Bag has woven polypropylene sides with a stiff plastic hoop that you insert to hold the top open. It’s available in capacities from 1.2 to 9.5 cubic feet. We found the 4.6-cubic-foot bag ($21.50; shown in photo) big enough for most tasks. Also from Bosmere.

What to do with fallen leaves

If you want to recycle leaves for compost or mulch, rake them up and run them through a shredder. If you have a strong, large-capacity bagging mower, you can use it to pick up and shred leaves.

On the compost pile, alternate layers of leaves and green matter like grass clippings to hasten decomposition.

Not all leaves make good mulches: Black walnut leaves, for example, contain a chemical that retards the growth of other plants. And don’t use diseased leaves as mulch; shred and compost them.