A sign at the A. Dennis Moore Recycling Center and Transfer Station marks an area for disposal of brush and yard waste, although the town encourages residents to compost yard waste at home. (CHUCK PEROW PHOTO)

For many of us, autumn — when the trees turn on their colors and the “leaf peepers” ogle the view — is a time for raking fallen leaves and preparing the yard for winter. It’s also a time when nature offers a protective cover for smaller plants in the form of those leaves. Letting the leaves make a mulch for your flower beds can help your more tender plants weather the winter.

But when you have too many leaves falling and smothering the lawn, it may be time to rake! Don’t think of those leaves as waste! (Harpswell’s solid waste ordinance defines “Yard Waste” as “grass clippings, leaves, and other vegetal matter other than wood wastes and land clearing debris.”). You can get value by composting them using any of the excellent methods described in the town’s composting guide, available at tinyurl.com/3jphmkus.

The guide offers this insight: “Composting is the most practical and convenient way to handle your yard wastes. It can be easier and cheaper than bagging these wastes and taking them to the Transfer Station and safer than burning them. Compost improves your soil and the vegetation growing in it. If you have a garden, a lawn, trees, shrubs, or even planter boxes, you have a use for compost. By using compost you return organic matter to the soil in a usable form.”

Note that the guide references the Transfer Station, not the Recycling Center. That’s because Harpswell’s Recycling Center cannot handle detritus from your yard (“yard waste”). It’s far better for you to recycle it using the methods in the guide. Even Garbage to Gardens composting bins cannot handle the volume of yard waste generated. For disposal, yard waste must be taken to the Transfer Station.

If you are removing invasive plants from your yard (see the Resources link on the Harpswell Invasive Plant Partnership website, hippmaine.org, for descriptions of invasive plants), please make sure to follow the guidelines from the Transfer Station, available at tinyurl.com/ycka5f69. Invasive plant waste must be in heavyweight, contractor-style trash bags, tied or sealed. These bags must be weighed in like any other brush or yard waste. But then they go in the large blue demo cans — there are special handling instructions to prevent the spread of invasive plants.

Note too: If you have larger logs, ask where you can put them aside if they might be used as firewood by other residents.

Harpswell has a host of information on the Recycling Center and Transfer Station webpage, tinyurl.com/5n8n3usf, to help you manage all your solid waste. The page includes details on everything you can recycle.