Falling feeling for leaves

There's an awesome struggle between man and nature going on this very moment.

The Earth has moved into autumn, gravity is working perfectly, and Mother Nature is obeying all the signs. Autumn light gets more golden, days get shorter and leaves begin to fall from trees.

And fall and fall and fall.

The invention of leaf blowers and vacuums may have made the common weekend gardener's life a bit easier, but gardeners are still facing a losing battle.

"When the last leaf comes off the tree, I've won," said Carson City resident Don Hataway.

"For now, this is for naught," he added, waving towards his bags of leaves.

Chiyo Peterson Garceau, also of Carson City, doesn't just rake her yard, she embraces modern leaf-fighting tools and vacuums her lawn.

"Some people don't care about their yards. I do," she said. "I like it looking nice."

Of course, all this raking does bring about the question of what to do with the debris nature scatters about the yard.

Residents can't rake or blow leaves into the streets since Carson City has an ordinance which states that it is illegal to dump rubbish and a host of other things into any street, alley, road, etc.

And yes, leaves are considered to be rubbish. Besides, the street department doesn't like to dig leaves out of city storm drains, said Street Operations Manager John Flansberg.

Residents could make mulch by throwing leaves, dirt and any other thing that will decompose into a bin and wait for winter to mash it together for spring fertilizer. Leaves could be put on a flower bed and be left to turn into fertilizer.

Or they could be bagged up and left for the Carson City Street Operations Department.

The street department is conducting its annual fall clean up to help residents rid themselves of the leaves and limbs that come with fall. Last year, city crews hauled about 40 trucks worth of debris to the dump in an attempt to help the city stay clean, Flansberg said.

City crewmen will work their way through the city starting at 7 a.m. Monday. Leaves must be bagged, and limbs must be less than 6 feet long and tied in bundles so crews can throw them onto trucks. There is no specific day or time when the crews will swing by streets, so residents are encouraged to have everything ready and on the curb Monday. If residents find that their homes was missed, they should call the street department at 887-2345 early Friday and a truck will be sent.

If none of the above options are appealing, you could look at this fall ritual as a waste of time. Author Robert Fulgham, who wrote "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," noted his desire to leave leaves alone.

"Leaves have been falling down for thousands of years. And the earth did pretty well before rakes and people," Fulgham wrote. "Old Mother Nature put the leaves where she wanted them, and they made more earth. We need more earth."

He wrote that while he enjoyed the way leaves looked on the ground, most people, including those who write gardening magazines, do not.

"Leaves should be raked. There are rules. Leaves are not good for grass. Leaves are untidy. Leaves are moldyslimy. But I like leaves so much, I once filled my classroom at school ankle-deep with them. There is a reason for leaves."

Rake the leaves? Leave them alone? Your gardening habits are up to you. But if you don't want to haul the rubbish to the dump, leave everything on the curb Monday.

What: Carson City Street Operations Department Fall Cleanup

When: Monday, 7 a.m. through Friday

Where: Citywide. Take bagged leaves to the curb Monday and the city crew will remove them sometime during the week. If the crew misses your house, call the street department early Friday at 887-2345, and it will send a truck.

For information on mulching and compost techniques, call Carson City's University of Nevada, Reno Cooperative Extension office at 887-2252.


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