Detroit — Trillions of tree leaves are making their final descent. Your job: deciding what to do with them.
Here's a look at the pros and cons of different disposal methods.
¢ Mow and mulch. Once leaves are mowed into tiny bits, it doesn't hurt to leave them on the lawn. Mowed leaves provide turf with nutrients and organic matter.
Pro: Easy because you have to mow anyway. Helps the grass. Con: May require mulching mower. Difficult or impossible when there are lots of leaves.
¢ Rake. While rake choice is personal, it makes sense to opt for an ergonomic model.
A new one this year is the Slapshot lawn rake ($14.95, www.slapshotlawntools.com). It's supposed to cover more ground faster with less stress on the raker's body.
Experts recommend stretching before raking, not doing too much at one time, and switching from left to right sides frequently.
Pro: Raking is quiet and good exercise. Con: Raking is good exercise.
¢ Non-rakes. Leaf sweepers are similar to push mowers that pick up and collect the leaves. Plow and Hearth (www.plowhearth.com) has one for $149.95 (Item 50241). Leaf scoops strap on a person's hands, turning them into giant, grabby paws. Gardeners' Supply has a 15-inch-wide model for $11.95 (www.gardeners.com; Item 35-975).
Pro: Work reducers. Con: More expensive than raking alone, although the outlay could be spread over several seasons.
¢ Power tools. Blowers can be gas or electric and carried, worn as a backpack or pushed. Check out the noise level as well as the price and power, and wear eye and ear protection.
Pro: They do the job efficiently. Con: Often pricey and noisy.
¢ Leaf mold or compost. Corral a pile of leaves. Get them wet. Eventually, they'll become leaf mold, like the top layer of the forest floor and a fine soil conditioner.
Whole or shredded leaves may also be added to a compost pile.
Alternate with untreated grass clippings and healthy garden debris.
Pro: Free soil conditioner. You get to feel virtuous. Con: Compost happens, but not overnight.
¢ Hire someone. It could be the neighborhood teenager or a professional lawn crew, so the price range is substantial. Get several quotes.
Pro: The leaves disappear.
Con: Dollars vanish, too.