Action 293: Mow your leaves!

mowing leavesDate: 20 October
Action: 293
Cost of taking action: £/$/€ NIL

 

Mulching the leaves in your garden can benefit your lawn, and brings environmental benefits

Today’s action headline might sound a little odd, but using a mower to mulch leaves is actually a very good thing to do, and some research at Michegan State University has demonstrated this clearly.

What’s involved?

Raking leaves in the autumn .. a horrible job!

You rake a pile of leaves and fight them into the wheelie bin, garden waste bags, composter, or the wind just scatters them again!

Gone are the days when you would burn them … not a good idea for all sorts of reasons.

Some can be used as protective mulch around roses and other perennials, but did you know that you could just mow them into pieces over the lawn.

Using a rotary mower with a sharp blade, and no collecting box, you will make short work of chopping them up and they will nourish your lawn.

Really?

Yes, really.

To try and establish for sure whether mowing over leaves is good, bad, or indifferent to your lawn Michigan State University did an extensive 3-year study. They mowed leaves spread much thicker than most of us encounter, using a home mower.

The result showed that

  • lawns with mowed leaves were healthier than lawns from which the leaves were removed
  • pulverized leaves added nutrients, aided in lawn moisture retention, and helped control weeds
  • after 3 years of mowing leaves into the turf, there were virtually no dandelions or crabgrass.

The researchers said ” (this) clearly indicates that the practice of mulching leaf litter into existing turf grass canopies provides benefits for the soil and the turf grass plant.”

Sharpening the mower blades and a slow movement with the mower will help to grind the leaves finer. It may be necessary to make as many as 3 or 4 passes over the area to grind the leaves fine enough, especially if you haven’t been mowing regularly. However, take care that the pulverized leaves do not cover the grass blades entirely as autumn is a very important time for the turf to photosynthesize and store carbohydrates.”

Why this is beneficial to our environment

  • a natural way of you nourishing your lawn and reducing weeds
  • no chemicals involved, better for the local ecosystem
  • less overall waste from your home
  • reduces the need to burn leaves or send them to landfill

Take action

Forget the raking and disposal of leaves scattered across your grass. Keep some of them to act as mulch to protect your plants in winter, and just mow the rest into the lawn. Much less labour involved and the following spring you’ll see the benefits in a greener lawn.