Mulch leaves or rake?

kevingalaxyNovember 4, 2009

I have a large oak tree next to my yard, i mulched the leaves 4 days ago, now they are back, should i continue to mulch every few days - its more manageable if i do it every few days than once a week. Or should i blow them with my blower and bag them? I guess my q is, if i mulch too much will it be harmful to the lawn? I know some mulching is good, but with the amount of leaves im wondering if i mulch all fall if theres any downside? Thanks all.

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I would keep mulching them until or unless the mulched leaves became too thick for the grass to poke through.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 12:48PM
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Billl(z7 nc)

At my previous house, we had a ton of trees. If I just mulch mowed, I would have had a pile of leaves in many spots. Instead of bagging though, I used the leaf blower to spread them around the yard more evenly and then mowed them.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 1:07PM
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ohio2112(Zone 6 NE Ohio)

You'll be amazed at how many leaves you can mulch in, especially if you make 2 or 3 passes. Even if you do need to make a few passes it will still take less time than it would if you were raking or blowing them and then bagging.

I used to do one mulch pass and then another pass to bag them. This year the second pass I'm also mulching and when I'm done it's almost impossible to tell that the lawn was previously totally covered with leaves.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 4:05AM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

I agree, and it also creates good organic material for the soil, less most nutients, but still a really good thing. Like BP said, mulch them until they start covering the grass fairly thick, then get rid of them other ways.

Usually I try to mulch most of them (rain will cause the top mulched layers to fall closer to the soil giving more room to mulch), but I'm surrounded by 100' trees and of course none of the neighbors close to me do anything with their leaves...they just wait until a big wind comes up to blow them over to my yard, so I get to mulch until March.

Ain't that a hoot?!?! Some people are just sorry.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 6:38AM
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I have several areas on my lawn that in the past have been very prone to go dormant very quickly in the Iowa summer heat.

The past 2 seasons I have mulched every leaf I can find into these areas! I'm talking about big piles of leaves...the kind small kids used to rake up and then jump in all afternoon!

It takes multiple passes with my walk behind mulching mower until the leaves are pulverized to confetti size.


The effort has been worth it. These problem areas of grass are now the greenest part of my lawn. The leaf matter will look like you are smothering your grass, but come spring it will be hard to find and will make the worms think they have hit the mother-load.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 12:55PM
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Thanks all, i mulched and it was a breeze. Much easier than blowing and bagging, 2 passes and you cant see a thing! Just wonderful grass. Im surprised the neighbors don't mulch twice a week (if they have time)? Instead they leave it until it totally covers the grass then they take 3 days bagging it? For me to mulch takes 10 mins!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 3:00PM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

I've learned the hard way that having the right mulching mower is a key part of the solution. Last year I bought a quality Toro mulching mower from a Toro dealer. Not a box store imitation. The leaves just disappear. Usually on the first pass.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2009 at 12:29PM
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Have a regular toro recycler 20322, seems to do the job!

    Bookmark   November 6, 2009 at 4:55PM
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Steven Laurin & Company

The fall leaves all get fed into my Troy-Bilt pre-MTD Super Tomahawk chipper/shredder. Some of the material is spread over the garden beds - where it's tilled under the soil using my Troy-Bilt pre-MTD tiller, the rest goes into the first compost bin, while finished material from the third bin is added to the mix as well. This routine is both fun and rewarding.

We get so many leaves from my many mature trees and still can't get enough of that black gold. Send all your leaves to me where they'll be gladly accepted :~)

    Bookmark   November 6, 2009 at 8:28PM
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I've been known to collect leaves from my neighbors, spread them on the lawn and mulch mow them in. One neighbor who gave me his leaves commented that it sounded like free fertilizer. I said it was and started walking away, figuring that meant that he had caught on and was going to keep the leaves, but somehow he never made the connection that he could use the free fertilizer, too.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2009 at 12:37AM
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My city crews vacuum up leaves from the curbs. Every year I ask and they bring me 3 truck loads (30 cubic yards) of mixed leaves. Garden gold. Left uncovered to rot/compost for a year, it turns into leaf mold. Best possible mineral amendment for garden or lawn.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 11:12PM
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Remind me not to eat vegetables from your garden. Street vacuums suck up the worst possible garbage there is. I saw a lot filled with that stuff and it had ground up glass, metal, painted wood, nails, feces, oily rags, bottle caps, diapers, and who knows what other chemicals like ethylene glycol and motor oil. Besides all the leaves you can pile up contributes only a tiny amount to the soil. It takes many, many years to build soil from such things as leaves.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 1:00AM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

I don't doubt the first part of your post. But, the last two sentences should be ignored by everyone reading.

Adding organic matter to the worst clay soil will create a near-perfect growing medium in just a few years. The benefits begin almost immediately because earthworms will move up for the feast and provide aeration and nutrition to your plants.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 9:17AM
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Billl(z7 nc)

Just by the numbers, say you collect enough leaves to make 1 yard of compost/leaf mold. If you have a 1000 sq ft garden, that would add a bit more than 1/4 of material to that garden bed. Say you tilled that in to the first 12 inches of soil. That would raise the organic matter content of your soil by 2%. Somewhere in the 10% range would be great for most veggies. At the 2%/yr rate, it would take about 5 years to turn a barren wasteland into ideal soil. It will happen faster than that if you start with "average" soil and want to make it exceptional.

Now, if you are talking about scaling that up to larger areas, you start running into complications. 1 cubic yard of compost is equal to 27 cubic foot bags. Each of those bags weighs about 40 lbs. If you are trying to improve and acre of land, that would be 40 cubic yards, or 40,000 lbs of material. Yikes! That is why is so much easier to just mulch mow grass and leaves and let the material decompose in place.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 1:38PM
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Good to hear what has worked for you, everyone! I definitely agree that the benefits are great.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 3:12PM
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