Yonkers Plans To Cut Costs By Mulching Leaves

YONKERS, N.Y. – Yonkers is hoping to save some green by going green.

Instead of collecting leaves from the 44 city parks and hauling them to compost yards, crews will soon mulch fallen foliage and leave the remnants behind as part of the “Love 'Em and Leave 'Em” initiative.

The program is expected to reduce the city’s annual $650,000 in tipping fees while turning the leaves into nutrient-rich, natural fertilizing material, officials said Wednesday at Redmond Park during the launch of the program.

“Here we have something that has a measurable impact on the environment and quality of life but is also something that saves money,” said Brad Tito, the city’s director of sustainability.

Officials estimate that city crews and landscapers deposit an estimated 35,000 tons of leaves and grass clippings at the city’s Organic Yard every year. Shredding leaves on site can save the city money on tipping fees and the cost of packing leaves into trucks to be shipped out of the county.

In addition, mulched leaves have environmental benefits, such as improving soil health and reducing the need for fertilizer.

“This is a perfect example of how being green does not cost money,” Department of Public Works Commissioner Thomas Meier said.

City officials encouraged residents to follow their lead and mulch their own leaves.

“With tight budgets and high labor and materials costs, adopting leaf mulching-in-place and grass-cycling practices in Yonkers makes a lot of sense,” said Mayor Mike Spano.

With a little practice, many homeowners will find that mulching leaves in place is easier than raking, bagging, or blowing them to the curb, said Tim Downey, owner of Aesthetic Landscape Care Inc., who is training city crews in the art of leaf mulching.

“Once you get the knack of it, you’re going to say to yourself,  ‘Why wasn’t I doing it this way before?’ ” he said.

For residents who choose to bag their leaves, the Department of Public Works will continue to pick up leaves every Wednesday. On these days, city trucks will pick up recycling and return for leaves placed in paper bags or open containers. 

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