Leaves Blowing In The Wind Like Money Out The Window

Last weekend was my weekend to gather leaves around my home and rake them into the street at curbside. I take this chore as a personal challenge. As my dad would say, ‘if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it right’.

I have a time-tested and proven plan which includes a weather report, working with the wind, starting in the back yard and using a tarp to drag the leaves to the front, and depositing them very carefully not less than 15 feet from the driveway. I also allow room for the garbage guy to get my cans without pushing through the leaves, and I give the postal worker room to get to the mailbox.  Here is the tricky part; trying to figure out from which direction the truck will be coming to vacuum the leaves. I never seem to get this one right, because inevitably the truck pushes the leaves towards the entrance to my driveway.

Then I meticulously rake the front yard leaves to curbside, allowing 12 inches from the curb to the 24 inch high pile of leaves stretching from lot line to lot line (again accommodating for garbage pick-up and mail delivery). The 12 inch path allows water to pass through. When I’m all done with leaf placement, I use my hose to spray a layer of water on the leaves, which stabilizes the leaves against the wind.

When done, I stand back to admire my accomplishment, and wait for the leaf guys to come rolling through. There must be a million leaves waiting to disappear. This year, within a few days, the leaf guys came through and again I guessed the wrong direction. By the time they were done, there was a trail of one million leaves stretching down the street blowing in the wind. Wow, what a seemingly waste of time, and taxpayer dollars.

The City of Naperville spends a lot of money trying to collect leaves throughout the city during a six week period in Autumn. This year the process began October 19 and ends November 30 and possibly sooner depending upon weather conditions.

Leaves are piled in the street at curbside and every two weeks trucks (leaf loaders), and vacuum units, come by and magically make the leaves disappear, according to city officials; what disappears are the budget dollars, while the leaves simply get rearranged in the neighborhood.

In a perfect world, the process works perfect, however leaf collecting is anything but perfect. Typically the first of the three drive-byes to pick-up leaves is too early and a small percentage of residents have their leaves ready. Most of the leaves are still on the trees. The second drive-by is a race between the residents raking leaves into the street, and the leave trucks circling the neighborhoods. And the third drive-by often-times doesn’t get completed due to inclement weather.

So are the residents really getting the best bang for their leaf-collecting buck? A million leaves stretching down the street would say no.  With a City budget deficit of $1.8 million, maybe our leaf collecting expense could be put to better use, by 1) chipping into the deficit, and 2) allowing residents the right to utilize municipal center meeting rooms without a fee to use the ‘peoples house’, a term appropriately coined by councilman John Krummen.

Those wanting to use a municipal center meeting room could simply bring a bag of leaves, in lieu of paying a fee. It’s a win-win-win. The good folks of Naperville could use what they ‘built’, city officials could save a bundle of money and use it towards the deficit, and we could get leaves off the street.

Show 3 Comments


  1. The problem you could have addressed is the fact that all of the leaves that were in neat piles have now been blown back onto lawns. My house has quite a few leaves that I paid to have hauled to the street. Expensive leaves for me since I will now have to pay once again to have the same leaves brought back to the street. Where are the trucks? Earlier posts by quite a few people came up with a few suggestions that total more than bags of leaves: using the extra SECA money for all residents this year. The Kiwanis puts on its Pancakes Festival without any SECA money, paying its bills from the receipts. Other groups in the city could do the same until the $1.8 is covered. Or how about getting the City Council request for a team building seminar off the books? Really? How many private businesses still do that type of event? The City Council members could go to their political organizations (yes, folks, this non-partisan team is really quite partisan) and ask to be entertained. Or maybe one of them could have a pot-luck party at their house.

  2. Leaf me alone

    And don’t forget the inevitable early snowstorm where the leaves stay frozen into a pile curbside until spring. Blocking melting snow water from reaching the sewers, and becoming too heavy to move with a snow shovel. A better, more cost effective, solution would be free yard waste bag pick up during the leaf falling season. Or fill your garbage or recycle can with leaves for a midweek pickup.

  3. There is to be some confusion about this program. First ranking leaves to the curb is an option participation service. I usually don’t bother trying to rank leaves in time for the first (October 19th) cycle because most of my leaves are still on the tree. Second starting November 2nd and going thru December 11th leaves place in yard waste bags at the curb are picked up for free (no sticker required). So if you feel racking them to the curb is not a good use of your time then simply bag them and they will be collected at no charge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *