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P. Allen Smith offers ideas on how to compost your leaves.

Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
Autumn leaves dance in the wind in this image taken Tuesday at Foster Park.

Plan your leaf attack now

The kids next door were raking leaves using a couple of rakes for gathering and trash can lids for carrying. Of course, the rakes became swords, the lids became shields and the mighty warriors ended up rolling in piles, giggling and seeing who could fit the most leaves in their pants.

As you can imagine, the piles are not high, nor are they exactly neat. And who cares?

The time to get serious about leaves is nearly upon us, however. How will you make your attack?

At Dirt Cottage, the mulching mower will move most of the leaves to garden beds under the octogenarian trees, where they will stay all winter, or to tarps on the driveway, which will be used to drag them to the backyard to expand a new garden bed.

Brown leaves make for excellent mulch, and chopped-up ones – courtesy of the mower – are less likely to blow around.

In Fort Wayne, curbside leaf collection begins Oct. 22 and ends Dec. 22, with two sweeps scheduled through each neighborhood. You can get more specific information at

The city asks residents to put leaves in the park-strip area between the sidewalk and street. Not on the street, because they clog up stormwater drains and sewers, and because piles in streets can be dangerous for little warriors.

You can also put the leaves in biodegradable yard waste bags and set the bags at the curb for collection. You need to call 311 or 427-8311, or they’ll just sit there.

Can’t imagine anyone burns leaves in the city, but the fine starts at $50.

Send in a shot

If you want to send in a photograph of your children playing in piles, the email address is below. Use the JPEG format and attach it to the email. Be sure to include your name, the names of those in the photo and what community you call home.

Anne Gregory is a garden putterer, not a gardening expert, and writer and editor. Garden photos (JPEGs, please) and tips may be sent to (please put “The Dirt” in the subject line) or 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.