The Love ‘Em & Leave ‘Em Initiative started in fall of 2010 by a group of volunteers who were part of Irvington's Green Policy Task Force. Training and outreach began in earnest during the fall of 2011 with the help and support of a handful of local landscape professionals experienced in LELE techniques. While starting locally, the vision has been to expand the initiative county-wide so as to achieve the greatest benefits.

Earth Day 2012 County Recycling Awards Ceremony
Earth Day 2012 Recycling Awards Ceremony
On Earth Day 2012, the County presented waste reduction recycling awards to the leaf mulching initiatives in Irvington (LELE), Bedford (Leave Leaves Alone) and Hastings. Read the official Press Release from the Earth Day awards event. Over 22 municipalities in the County now endorse and/or implement LELE programs for residents and DPW/Parks departments. (Municipalities supporting LELE are listed here.) But continued public education outreach to homeowners, landscape professionals, and municipal officials is still needed!

On Earth Day 2013, the County announced that the Village of Scarsdale and the Village of Bronxville had both been selected for a 2013 Earth Day Award.  The villages were recognized for  their initiatives and investments in instituting programs endorsing / demonstrating the “Love ‘Em & Leave ‘Em” organic yard waste reduction effort. Read the full Earth Day 2013 awards press release (.pdf).

FCWC 2013 Green Seal Award

Green Seal Award accepted by members of the Irvington GPTF (l. to r.) Nikki Coddington, Anne Jaffe-Holmes, and MJ Wilson.
On June 13, 2013, the Federated Conservationists of Westchester County presented its Green Seal Award to two exceptional groups, the Irvington Green Policy Task Force and Yonkers Green Policy Task Force. Both groups provide advice to their respective municipalities on issues that have an impact on residents' health and the environment.

The Irvington Green Policy Task Force was recognized for their development and promotion of the Love 'Em and Leave 'Em program that encourages mulching leaves in place. Initiated in Irvington, the Irvington Green Policy Task Force has helped to spread the Love 'Em and Leave 'Em program to other municipalities throughout the County.

LELENY 2013 Initiative

The City of New Rochelle and the City of Yonkers were awarded a grant from the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities to support a joint project to create a training, marketing, and policy campaign for on-site leaf mulching. This grant was matched by the Westchester Community Foundation.

The grants will be used by the two cities to educate the public on the benefits of nourishing their lawns with the leaves that fall from the trees.

The leaf mulching programs to be developed by these two cities, working together with the Greenburgh Nature Center and SWEAC, can also be adopted by other Westchester municipalities.

Read the full Press Release (.pdf).

Read the final grant report issued by Westchester Community Foundation on the Funders' Network blog: "Raking in the Savings: A Partners for Places Grantee Turns Leaf Season Into Year Round Savings, Sustainably"

LELENY 2012 Initiative

Thanks to Legislator Mary Jane Shimsky and Westchester County Board of Legislators for their help in securing a contract to Greenburgh Nature Center for the purpose of promoting on-site leaf/grass mulching. The contract program includes “how to” trainings around the county, on-site landscaper consultations, and an informative website (www.leleny.org) with a social media outreach component, video demos, and a public domain resource “toolkit.”

This initiative teaches landscape professionals, private property owners, municipal officials & staff, and institutional property managers to “Love ‘Em & Leave ‘Em” on site, with several goals:
  • How to build better turf and soil quality by shredding leaves and grass clippings right where they fall, or by applying the shredded organics as mulch on garden beds and border areas.
  • How to reduce the total amount of yard waste that has to be removed from a property.
  • Thus reducing overall yard waste disposal costs for local municipalities and for the county.
The Love ‘Em & Leave ‘Em Initiative’s main programming events will occur leading up to and during the fall 2012 leaf season (Sept-Nov). Check the online calendar for upcoming events in your area.

If you would like a demonstration of effective, time-saving and cost-reducing techniques for mulching leaves and grass right into your property, contact Anne Jaffe Holmes at the Greenburgh Nature Center 914-813-1251. Or email her at info@leleny.org.

About Our Trainers / On-Site Professional Consultants

Tim Downey, president of Aesthetic Landscape Care, Inc.  is a pioneer behind this rediscovered practice of recycling by on-site leaf mulching.

“I’m not the first person by any measure to use this practice, it is the norm in more rural areas for time immemorial, but it’s been largely overlooked today’s suburban spaces for a host of reasons."

Tim is an ardent environmentalist and 35+ year participant in landscape management. He began to ask himself in 2000 after graduating from the Green Gorilla landscape education program taught by Jeff Franks from Long Island,  “Could I do things differently?”

With research, trial and experimentation in actual field application, along with diligent observation and note taking of the natural process of leaf decomposition, Tim began to see real world benefits for clients' turf and landscape based upon leaf mulching-in-place. Helping with the success was the confluence of two unique tools (the Vulcher and Gator blades) which could be simply added to the typical professional landscaper machines used in the field.

Tim says, “My initial reason to share with others was to promote better environmental practices and to reduce the noise created by the abusive use of blowers. The economic crash of 2008 lead me to believe I had something which could benefit local governments tasked with the wasteful annual expense of  leaf collection." With education and review of policy, municipalities could benefit from significant savings, converting those saving into other needed community services and/or budgetary savings.

By teaching both homeowners and professional landscapers through public outreach and training, Tim and the LELENY team seek to remove barriers and resistance, to have leaf mulching and grass cycling become the "norm" or accepted practice in lawn care.

In short, “It’s the smart and right thing to do,” says Tim.

David Duarte, President/Owner of Five Brothers Landscaping, Inc., founded his business in 1990 after serving five years as Nursery Manager at Sprainbrook Nursery. David received his formal training at the New York Botanical Gardens. David’s client list includes a vast array of professionals such as Landscape Architects, Environmentalists, Landscape Designers, and Native Plant experts who all expressed a strong desire for a more organic and environmentally friendly approach to mulch their property. Leaf mulch provided the perfect solution to fit his client’s needs and he has been using this process since 1985.

When the LELENY initiative began in Westchester County, David was excited to take part as a trainer and share his knowledge and experience. In order to spread the word about the benefits of leaf mulching, more landscapers needed to be involved. Since many landscaping companies are owned by Spanish speaking people, David worked with the team to develop a bilingual training program, and has provided leaf and grass mulch mowing training programs for Spanish speaking professional landscapers and lawn service contractors at the Greenburg Nature Center. Participants learn methods and techniques of mulch mowing that will save both time and money in leaf management in the fall, as well as grass-cycling through the summer. Proper equipment for efficient and effective mulch mowing is discussed, as well as strategies for managing a full range of landscape situations.

David says, "I've been mulching leaves for at least 20 years and the soil you create by doing this is unlike any other. Leaf mulch is more nutritional and safer for your property. Most commercial mulch is the by-product of dead trees - who knows what they died of? Leaf mulch comes directly from your property and does not contain any foreign elements."

Anthony Vulpone (on right in photo), owner of Vulpone Landscaping & Lawn Maintenance, has taught LELE to his father and son.

Anthony says, "I have been mulching leaves for the past 4 years. What inspired me was the impact to the environment, the time savings and money savings that results from this method."

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Website design and updates by Maya Technology Design
LELE Logo, graphic design of Toolbox resources, videos by Mark Gilliland