ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The age-old fall question: what to do with all those leaves piling up on the lawns, sidewalks and streets.

Burning was a common solution, however many cities have banned the practice, including Rockford. Most cities offer to vacuum or haul away bagged leaves, but is this the best use of your fallen foliage?

Simply mowing your leaves into small pieces, or mulch, is a better option, according to turf specialists at Michigan State University.

“This mulch will reduce the chance of topsoil erosion and will add valuable organic material that microorganisms will continue to use throughout this fall, winter and spring as shelter and food,” says Rebecca Krans, a consumer horticulture educator for Michigan State.

Krans advises to use a regular mower or specialized mulching mower to grind the leaves into smaller pieces, and to go over the leaves multiple times to ensure they settle into the turf and do not mat together.

“Next spring, you can lightly turn this mulch into the soil or plant directly into it or beneath it, depending upon whether you are seeding or transplanting. Continue this practice yearly, and you will be adding valuable organic material that improves your soil’s structure and thus, its ability to hold water and air.”