Leaves will soon be falling from the trees.

It’s a beautiful sight and is the reason many people choose to live in this area, but even though leaves are a part of nature, they can be very harmful to lakes if they’re not disposed of correctly, according to Alexandria city officials.

Leaves should never be raked or blown onto the road or into waterways.

City officials explain why:

Leaves contain phosphorus, an essential nutrient for plant growth. As the leaves decompose, they release the phosphorus that was bound up in the leaf. When it rains, leaves that are on the roadway will be carried by runoff into the stormsewer, which eventually outfalls to a pond, lake, ditch, or wetland. The water body is where the phosphorus will be released, causing algal growth and excessive algae blooms.

Five bags of leaves are equivalent to one pound of phosphorus, which is capable of producing 1,000 pounds of algae in a lake.

Instead of raking or blowing leaves off of your property, mulch leaves by running over them with a lawnmower. Leaves and grass clippings are good fertilizers for your lawn. Also, leaves can be raked into a compost pile for a nutrient-rich fertilizer for gardening or plant growth next spring. Some trash collection services also collect yard waste, which is another great place to dispose of leaves.