It’s OK to run over the leaves that have fallen on your lawn with a mulching lawnmower. Seriously. The horticulturists at Colorado State University say so – and they site the research by fellow plant geeks at Michigan State University that backs them up. If you have been swayed by talk that mulching leaves on top of your lawn with a mulching lawnmower creates more thatch, you’ve been led astray by urban myth. And there’s more good news. Mulched leaves add nutrients and also help retain soil moisture. In addition, mulching fallen leaves into your lawn can actually decrease weeds in the turf – and three straight years of doing so can almost eliminate dandelions and crabgrass. Thanks again, Michigan researchers! Can there be too many leaves to mow? If leaves are mowed frequently enough, says CSU turf expert Tony Koski, Ph.D., it’s rare that there will be too many mulched leaves. But if after mowing and mulching you can’t see the grass anymore, then you may want to remove some of the material. Whatever you do, Dr. Koski advises against leaving un-mulched leaves on top of the lawn all winter. Mixed with rain and snow, they will become matted. The debris will transform into a thick mushy layer that can smother and kill the lawn and become an ideal place where snow mold diseases can grow. Hold off a little while longer before tucking your mower into the shed for the winter and follow these tips for mowing and mulching leaves:
- Set the mowing height as high as possible.
- Make a couple passes over the lawn to ensure good mulching.
- To keep leaves from matting on top of the lawn, mow frequently – at least once a week and more often following heavy leaf drop.
Also, use mulched leaves for other areas of your yard. As they decompose, they add organic matter to the soil and food for earthworms.
- Place mulched leaves around perennials, trees and shrubs.
- Place them in the veggie garden – but remove dead material from this year’s veggies first.
Still left with too many leaves? Keep them out of the landfill by sharing them with a friend or neighbor who has a compost pile – or recycle them at one of the many locations that accepts leaves for composting. Contact your municipality or refer to
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