Once autumn rolls around, the leaves start to fall. That means it’s time to grab the rake and start picking them up. It also means we’re confronted with that perennial problem of what to do with them!
For many of us, composting is an option. Others may burn the leaves. Some communities even allow you to rake them to the street where they’ll pass by with a vacuum truck. But those aren’t always practical. The sheer volume may be too much or there could be local restrictions on burning. So that leaves us with the option of bagging them up for the trash truck.
Of course, we’ve all had the experience of starting to bag only to discover that the leaf bags we bought can barely support the air that passes through them.
What To Look For
Ok, there’s not much to a bag, right? And we don’t have much to say here.
Paper bags hold a certain initial appeal since they biodegrade faster. However, we’ve seen a lot of information saying that the environmental impact isn’t all that different. Paper requires trees to be cut down. A low percentage is recycled – even though leaf bags could be a great use for recycled paper. So we’re still on the fence about saying one is better than the other.
However, both need to be strong enough not to tear as you try to fill them. If the sides of the bag are too thin or weak, you’ll end up wasting more bags to double them. So it’s worth it to get quality bags to start with.
You’ll also want to be sure you get bags big enough for the job. Anything between 30 and 45 gallons is great for yard cleanup. Full of leaves, they’ll still be easy to move around the yard.
Drawstring plastic bags are the easiest to close. Again, you want to avoid weak bags where the drawstring breaks off when you pull it or lift the bag.
If you do want to mulch or burn leaves, you might prefer a reusable leaf bag. These are usually collapsible vinyl. If you have too many leaves to get rid of at once, you can even store them until your compost heap or bonfire is ready.
Tips For Using
There’s not much to say about stuffing a bag with leaves, either. But just remember a few basic points.
Even the toughest bags can rip if you put the wrong materials in them. For leaf bags, a few twigs won’t hurt. But break them up into small pieces so they won’t pierce the bags.
Be sure to follow your community’s rules about separating trash. Many areas treat leaves separately than other trash. Don’t mix household trash in the leaf bags.
Stuff the bag, but don’t overstuff. Filling them is great – it helps your wallet and it helps the environment. But if you try to put too much in, you’ll just pop the sides.
Of course, a trash can is a huge help for holding the bag. There are many that are suitable for use around the yard and garden!
How To Dispose Of Bagged Leaves
Once your leaves are bagged, be sure to close the bag tightly so they don’t end up all over the lawn again.
In some areas, you can put the leaf bags out with the regular trash. In others, however, there might be a special leaf pick-up day. Be sure to check with your town or
Our Picks for the Best Disposable Leaf Bags
Even for something as simple as leaf bags, there are still winners and losers. Here are our favorite brands when it comes time to dispose of dead leaves.
These bags from Husky are a large 42 gallons. They’re also designed for construction-site use, so you should have no problem disposing of leaves, twigs, and even small branches.
They are 3-mil bags, which means they are two to three times as thick as your average leaf bag. That makes them a little more expensive than other bags. But it’s worth it since you won’t have to worry about tearing them and repeating your hard work.
There is a pretty strong smell from the plastic. For outdoor use, it’s not an issue. But if you also wanted to use them for indoor work, it’s a bit much.
These have “ears” for tying them closed. This provides a tighter seal than drawstrings.
This box of 50 plastic outdoor bags does a great job for leaves and trash as well. They’re 33-gallon sized so they fit standard trash cans.
The plastic is 1.1 mil thick. That’s standard for most leaf bags. It does a good job standing up under the normal use we’ve suggested above – that is, no branches or large twigs.
They have an “embossed flex pattern”, as the manufacturer calls it, which provides a little bit of stretch so that you don’t weaken the bag as you fill it.
Drawstrings make them easy to close and carry.
Hefty bags are known for not being wimpy (ok, that’s an old advertising campaign). But these do hold up well for use with your leaves and other trash.
This is a pack of 38 bags. We can’t publish prices because of our contract terms, but as of press time, they’re competitive with other plastic bags.
The plastic is the standard 1.1 mil. The bottom opens flat so you won’t have to worry about them constantly tipping over.
They’re 39-gallon bags and have a drawstring for easing closure.
They’ll fit well in a 32-gallon trash can.
Hefty says these are available in unscented or with a white pine scent. However, we can’t find how to order one or the other. And while these have overwhelmingly positive reviews, the negative ones are about the plastic smell.
Amazon offers these Solimo bags as their “store brand.” They’re high-quality – and like most store brands, the price is great, too.
These are 39-gallon bags and come in a box of 40. The red drawstring holds up pretty well, and of course, it’s easy to identify!
Like others, these are made with 1.1 mil plastic. However, they might be a bit weaker than similar bags. Be careful not to overstuff. Also, use them only for dry leaves or other light material.
They are unscented, and we’ve yet to see any issues with that foul plastic smell associated with other bags.
These paper bags come in various-sized packs (5, 20, 50). At least as of this writing, you save a few percent when you buy the larger packs.
The size is 30 gallons, which is typical for paper bags. It’s smaller than most of the plastic bags on our list, however. When opened, the bag measures 16 x 12 inches at the base. It’s 35 inches tall.
The 2-ply paper can support slightly damp waste, although we wouldn’t risk using them for very wet material or leaving them out in the rain.
You do have to remember to leave a little room at the top so you can fold them over.
The price is great, too!
Good leaf bags – even though you’ll soon be throwing them out – definitely makes yard work easier. Paper or plastic, quality options are available for each. They might not be a perfect solution, but for now, they’re the best option for most of us.