Publisher’s Letter: Rake Responsibly

By Blaine Howerton, Publisher
North Forty News


Recently at sunrise, driving down Poudre Canyon to the lower elevations the colors were breathtaking. Yellows, oranges, and reflections of all of the colors on the river. My sons and I could’t get enough of it — there wasn’t any other place we would have rather been.

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But in a few weeks those leaves will all be on the ground. In years past at this time of year, I was waist-deep in piles of leaves. And like so many of our readers I was faced with what to do with them.

In Fort Collins burning leaves or blowing them into the street are both illegal!

Between Composting and Mowing, personally, I am happy to say that I haven’t put an ounce of leaves into the landfill for years. So here are a few tips toward being a responsible homeowner.


In the composting world, leaves are referred to as “black gold.” When mulched into small pieces, they decompose quickly. If you have a spare corner in your yard, consider mulching your leaves and putting them in a pile. Cover that pile to trap moisture and turn it through the winter. By spring, you will have great mulch or compost for your garden.


I like to mow leaves with a mulching mower blade. Then, I put on the grass catcher and make a few more passes to get as many as I can off the grass. I take the mulched leaves and grass and put them in a neat pile in a corner of the yard to use as compost. As the leaves fall, you may have to do this several times until they are all gone, but it’s easy and a great way to get your steps in! Your lawn and your neighbors will thank you too. You can also use part (or all) of the pile as mulch around the perennials in your yard. But I speak from experience that with our typical winter wind, you might be disappointed to see them blow right back onto your lawn.


Recycling lightens the load on our local landfills. And most cities have resources for recycling on their websites. You can also check with local farmers, landscape contractors, and ask around at your local farmer’s market to get ideas about how to responsibly dispose of yard waste.

Most trash haulers (as listed below) have yard waste recycling programs.

  • Republic Services (Gallegos Sanitation): 970-484-5556
  • Ram Waste Systems: 970-226-3396
  • Timberline Waste Services: 970-900-4002
  • Waste Management: 970-482-6319
  • Loveland Trash: 970-962-2529 

And there are actually several benefits to leaving leaves on the ground. They provide important habitat for beneficial insects and small mammals through the winter, nesting material for birds, and certain stem material provides habitat for native bees.

Having shared all that, this year living on the mountain is an all-new experience — what I have surrounding me are pine trees — not a leaf in sight.

Happy Fall!



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