RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — That time of year is upon us again. Leaf collection season is officially underway in Central Virginia. You may want to get that brightly colored foliage out of your yard, but there are ways to do it that don’t negatively impact the environment.   

Leaf collection season kicked off this month for many counties in our region and will continue into January and maybe even February.  

According to the Henrico county’s website, bagged leaf collection services for the fall season began Monday, Nov. 7 and will continue until Saturday, Dec. 17. Leaf collection will take place again in the county in January and December. 

Chris Mann, the Assistant Manager and plant expert at Green House 2 plant nursery in Richmond, says leaf collection is important for many reasons.    

“One of the importance of leaf collection is one so that it doesn’t go to the landfill and then fill up our landfills, but you also don t want it to clog the storm drains and some other important water ways” Mann said.

But you don’t have to do it the same way. There are multiple ways to better utilize the leaves in your yard that don’t involve using those huge plastic bags you may see so often on curbs and in trash cans.  

One way is a practice known as “leaf recycling.” This method is actually pretty simple — you just spread the leaves out in your yard and then leave them alone. This not only gets the job done, it is more environmentally impactful long term. 

“Leaf recycling is very important, and there’s different ways you can do that where it’s environmentally friendly,” Mann said. “So, if you have up to an inch or two inches of leaves in your yard, you can just mow it and let it lay in your grass and it will bring nutrients back into your soil.”

Mann also says that using plastic bags to gather leaves isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, there is a way to use them and still give back to the environment.  

“A lot of people I notice are raking their leaves putting them in plastic bags and setting them in their yard so that the sun and whatever heat in the winter will break them down,” Mann said. “And then they will spread them in their garden for the nutrients, so that’s one way to keep them out of the water system.” 

While Mann encourages recycling leaves as opposed to disposing of them, he does have a warning to those who use that method. He says know what type of leaves you’re recycling.  

“Trees like blackened walnuts, and some other trees, prevent plants from growing in the soil,” Mann said. “So you don’t want to add those to your garden because it would prevent things from flourishing.”