South Carolina Forestry Commission
News Release

November 15, 2002


(COLUMBIA, SC) - Itís that time again--leaves are falling and folks are raking. Then comes the big question: what do you do with mountains of neatly piled foliage?

Some of the answers may depend on where you live. If your community has curbside trash pickup, you might be able to bag the leaves and put them by the street. If you live in rural area, you might opt for the traditional leaf bonfire.

There could be a downside to either of these approaches. Some communities and private contractors charge an extra fee for picking up leaves. Burning, on the other hand, may create special liabilities. If you burn, make sure you follow the laws that regulate outdoor fires and the smoke they generate. Information on outdoor burning is available from your local Forestry Commission office or online at

A better answer may be to use at least some of your leaves for mulch or compost. For mulch, run over the leaves with a mulching lawnmower to chop them into fine pieces. Then spread the mulch about three inches deep over the root zone of trees and shrubs. Itís a good idea to keep the mulch away from the bark at the base of the tree.

You can also use the chopped up leaves for compost, allowing nature to convert the leaf material into a rich soil amendment. For information about how to make a compost pile, check with your County Agent or go online to From here, youíll need to ask the search feature for "compost."

This year, consider turning your crop of autumn leaves into mulch or compost. Itís good for your plants, itíll save you money, and itís a lot safer than burning.


For more information, contact: Ken Cabe, 803-896-8820.

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