A Better Way to Bag Leaves

Do you have a worn out or useless garbage can?  Now you can breathe life back into it!

You’re thinking “Why have an article about leaf collection in the spring, Jason?”  Well, if you lived in Florida you’d understand.  See, the trees around here don’t drop their leaves when it is cool and the grass is dead.  They wait until things start to heat up, the bugs come out, and the grass is starting to get nice and thick to maximize enjoyment.

Normally, I try to wait until all of the live oaks have dropped all of their oak yak (blossoms) for the year (usually by Easter).  This year they have just been trickling down and  I couldn’t wait any longer or the grass would have gotten too long and the process would have been too painful so last weekend Melanie helped me get our yard nice and leaf free.  Full disclosure:  The magnolia in the front yard has already dropped over 100 more leaves in the two days since the raking occurred.

I have this old wheeled garbage can that long ago got hit by a car and lost its wheels.  It was very difficult to stand upright but I saved it because putting leaving in a can is much easier than leaves in a bag.  The bottom was getting so thin that it had holes in some places.  At some point I saw a handyman special where an old garbage can like this was turned into a useful garbage bag holder.  The beauty of this system is that the bag does not get vacuum-sealed in the bottom of the can, the can “grows” with whatever size bag you want to use, and the bag does not have to be stretched to fit over the lip of the can.  I now share that transformation with you.

Step One – Cut the Bottom off the Can
I used a regular old handsaw designed to cut wood.  I could have made the cut straighter but it still works great.

Step Two – Turn the Can so the top sits on the Ground and Insert a Bag
This inverted taper will make lifting the can off the full bag easy and it makes the whole apparatus more stable. Notice how much easier the bag goes over the small end of the can.

Step Three – Fill Bag with Yard Debris
The sidewalls of the can allow you to compact the debris with your foot or hands without stretching and weakening the bag.  The bag is allowed to expand out the bottom (the old top) of the can allowing for many sizes of bag to be used.  Plus, I got to say “debris.”

Step Four – Tie the Top of the Bag Closed 
I like to try and leave as much of the top open as possible to try and let some sort of biodegrading take place.  Jacksonville doesn’t allow us to just pile our leaves at the curb for collection so either you buy bags or have metric tons of garbage cans that are used just once or twice a year.

Step Five – Lift Can off of Bag and Repeat Ad Nauseam

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