Saving Money By Mulching The Leaves

We have a lot of trees on our property, and so the fall brings lots and lots of leaves.
I’ve been raking them and bagging them, but my pack of 25 bags that I bought at Costco ran out last week, and I forgot to buy more. I started wondering if I could just mulch them instead with my mulching lawn mower. I did a little research and found that mulching leaves can be very beneficial to the lawn as it will provide nutrients.
I’ve since read additional information that helps me believe that using the mulching mower is not a bad thing. Unknown to us, there are still earthworms in the ground that will use the mulched leaves to create valuable nutrients that will help the lawn next spring.
So, this past week I actually used the mower and it looks great. The mower shreds the leaves a lot smaller than I would have guessed, and it saved me from having to buy more yard waste bags.
Some highlights from the article, others that I’ve read, and from my own personal experience:

  • It’s better to mulch leaves when they’re dry. Mine were still damp from a rainfall the previous night. If they’re damp, you just have to go slower to let the mower have more time to mulch
  • If there are too many leaves, you should probably stick to raking. When you cut your grass and it leaves clumps, that means it’s probably too high and you should bag it. The same principle applies to mulching leaves. If they’re more than an inch thick, the mower probably won’t be effective at mulching them and it’d be better to rake and bag.
  • You can collect the mulch and spread it around other areas. Apparently a layer of mulch a couple of inches thick around bushes and flower beds will also help provide nutrients to those areas.
  • I probably wouldn’t mulch every time since we have so many trees. I figure if I never collected the leaves, I might be placing too much mulch down would not be doing any benefit after a while. I’d recommend mulching no more often than every other time.

Happy raking and mulching!

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My City Government Is Helping Residents Save Money

One of the things that was new to me when we bought our house last year was having to pay for garbage pickup. Prior to that, I had lived in a condo and so the garbage pickup was included in the monthly association fees.
When we were buying our house, I investigated and found that garbage pickup in our city was up to each individual household. There are five trash haulers licensed in the city, and our subdivision has a recommendation of using one of the five haulers. I signed up with them.
The cost varies with fuel costs, but most recently the cost was approximately $80 for three months, or approximately $27 per month.
I was surprised that there wasn’t a single trash hauler, and did a little bit of research on the subject. I found that the residents had actually voted it down a few years back. The details in the archive news stories were a little sketchy, but I think that the residents were nervous about it being an additional tax, some didn’t like the government ‘taking it over’, and yet other residents didn’t want to pay because they don’t use the service all year. A lot of retired people in Michigan are ’snowbirds’ and spend the winters in warmer climates such as Florida or Arizona. Many of these people felt it would be cheaper for them to pay as you go.
Recently, I heard that the city council has been inundated with requests from residents to consider this again. The costs have gone up tremendously versus what it was a couple of years ago. Plus, the fact that there were multiple haulers meant multiple trucks. This added to traffic, wear and tear on the roads, and the general displeasure of having to look at garbage on the curb as well as listen to garbage trucks going by.
Apparently, the city council is bypassing the city vote. Instead of rolling it into the taxes, they’re basically still making residents pay the garbage hauler, but they’re eliminating all but one of the trash haulers licensed in the city. People that leave for the winter can turn the service off, with a nominal re-activation fee in the spring.
And, the price for three months will be $45. That’s $35 every quarter, or $140 saved per year. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Even people that leave for four or five months will save for the time that they’re using the service. Plus, we’ll have one day of trash pickup in our subdivision, less wear on the roads, and I believe they actually provide better service. They’ll take more recycling than they do now, they’ll provide residents with larger trash bins and recycle bins, and they’ve agreed to purchase all new equipment.
For us, the hauler that was chosen is the same one we’re using, so I’m hopeful that the transition will be relatively seamless when it happens.
I can’t really see a problem with this and am glad that our city government is helping our residents save money.

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Saving Time Raking Leaves

Fall offers many things for a good part of the country: beautiful colors, falling leaves, days at the cider mill, hay rides. But, along with all of these things comes the falling leaves, which of course must be raked. A quick tip that I’ve learned very quickly is to cut your grass short once fall comes and the leaves start falling. Why?
Because when it’s windy, as it often is during the fall months, a shorter lawn means that the leaves will simply blow away! That means less leaves to rake, and more time enjoying hot cider and football. Plus, since this is a personal finance blog, I have to point out that you’ll end up using less yard bags to collect the leaves!
In the summer, I let my lawn grow high. A higher lawn will trap more moisture and protect the ground from the hot sun, both important things to maintain a healthy lawn during the hot months. But, around Labor Day, I start lowering the lawn mower each time I cut the grass and work my way down to one of the lowest settings by the time the ground starts getting covered with leaves. This is important, because you don’t want to cut off too much of your grass at once as it can ’shock’ the grass in a bad way.
So, cut your grass a little shorter in the fall and enjoy a little less raking!

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