How To Mulch Fall Leaves
Mulch Your Leaves Into the Lawn in the Fall by Kelly Burke
So what do you do with your leaves in the fall? It turns out that mulching them and returning them to the lawn
offers many benefits. If there is an abundance of leaves, you should use them as mulch for gardens and planting beds
or as filler for your compost pile. Don't put them on the curb, especially if they are landfill-bound. Leaves are
free organic matter and should be used on the property they came from when possible.
If you allow fallen leaves to remain on your lawn without raking them away or mulching them using the mower
or a leaf mulcher, they can suffocate your lawn by depriving it of light and air. Mulching fallen leaves helps to
provide a nutritious, protective mulch for the grass, clear unsightly leaves, and stop the leaf litter suffocating
the lawn. All things considered - mulching is good garden practice!
Mulching leaves is a great way to dispose of them. It can reduce a pile of leaves to about one-tenth of its volume.
Mulching also mixes grass clippings with the leaf particles. The nitrogen-rich grass particles and carbon-rich
leaf particles compost more quickly when they're mixed together than they do separately.
A study by Michigan State University
indicates that mulching is 100% beneficial for the lawn. Mulched leaves are decomposed by earthworms and
microorganisms and turned into plant-usable organic matter. Mulched leaves are better for the greater
community, too, because they stay on-site and out of landfills.
Oak leaves and maple leaves were mulched and redistributed through test lawns and found to have a negligible
or beneficial effect on turf quality and color. They had no negative effects. Mulched sugar maple leaves even
appeared to inhibit broadleaf weeds such as dandelions.
Side Discharge. Use this method if you want to mulch leaves back into the yard or chop them into
fine particles that you'll pick up later with the mower and the bag. It's the best method if the grass is tall and
moist and the leaf cover is heavy or wet. Mow in stripes so that you cut the discharged stripe from the
previous pass. You can also mow outward or inward in concentric circles so that you cut and recut the
Mulching Lawn Mower. A mulching mower uses unique mowing blades in conjunction with "baffling"
under the deck. The leaves or grass clippings are cut multiple times as they circulate in the interior chamber.
The finely chopped material eventually gets pushed down onto the lawn surface. Occasionally, leaves will
have to be mowed several times. It may seem a little tedious, but it is far more cost-effective and labor-saving
than alternatives like raking or leaf blowing.
What is a leaf mulcher? A leaf mulcher is a powered tool that contains a series of special blades designed
to shred leaves into very small pieces. The leaves can then be used for mulching or added to a compost pile.
How does a leaf mulcher work? Leaves are placed in a holding container for the machine which
funnels them through the special blades of the leaf mulcher. The blades shred the leaves and deposit them
into a bin or basket underneath. Some mulchers do not actually have blades per se. They often use some
form of a metal string, sort of like a weed eater on steroids, but the principle is the same. As the leaves pass
through the chamber of the mulcher, they are shredded by the fast-spinning metal piece before being
deposited into the catch chamber.
Uses for leaf mulcher. Using shredded leaves as mulch in garden beds and around plants is an
excellent way to prevent weed growth while providing a slow-release nutrient source that will feed the
soil as it decomposes. This is probably a better solution than using pine straw as mulch since it will have
less pH impact on the soil. In fact, studies have shown that leaf mulch adds impressive amounts of nitrogen,
phosphorous, and potassium for your soil and garden plants (Illinois Aces)
Do not mulch to the point where the leaves cover and smother the grass. The grass blades should be
vertical and visible through the layer of mulched leaves.
It may help to spread the mulch around from thick spots to areas with thinner mulch distribution.
Set the mower to a height of 3 inches and mow over the leaves. You may need to pass the mower
over the leaves several times to achieve this. Try making the second pass at right angles to the first.
Leave a one inch layer of leaf mulch on the lawn.
Feed your lawn at the same time as mulching (for more information on fertilizing your lawn, see
Fall Lawn and Garden Fertilization
7 Ways to Use Fall Leaves
Leave The Leaves To Benefit Wildlife
Fall Garden Planning
Leaf Mold: Gardener's Gold