Every year we get reports from fellow riparians and GLQO members saying that that their neighbor or someone they know is blowing their leaves and/or lawn clippings into the lake and what can they do about it. The answer is, please tell them that what they are doing, while not illegal, is certainly bad for the lake. Leaves and lawn clippings contain nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous that promote the growth of algae. Also, as the leaves decay over time, their decomposition consumes oxygen. Both are harmful to the lake in large amounts. The few leaves that naturally land in the lake aren’t a problem; a small amount of nutrient input is actually good for the lake. But, dumping lots of leaves into the lake can have serious, negative effects on water quality. Likewise, 2) do not burn your leaves near the lake. Burning releases nutrients on the ground and if this occurs too close to the water, these nutrients will find their way into the lake. If you do burn leaves (and there are better options, see below), please make sure your bonfire is well away from the shoreline.
The best thing to do with your leaves of course is to compost them – that way the nutrients and organic matter go back into your yard or garden. Mulching mowers are also a good option for moderate amounts of leaves and if you have property off the lake, putting your leaves there to decay is a great option. But, if you have a small lakeside lot and a lot of leaves, composting and mulching may not handle the load. In that case, hiring a lawn service to haul them away may be your best or only option. Yes, that can be costly. But you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that by keeping leaves and their nutrients out of the lake, you have been a good steward to the environment and a friend to the lake.