Fall Lawn Care – the Leaf Issue

Useful things to remember:

* Heavy leaf fall must be raked from lawns or the grass will be smothered.

* Chopped leaves make terrific winter mulch for shrubs (whole leaves can pack down and suffocate roots). They also make ideal all-purpose compost after they’ve decomposed. Leaves can be chopped with a lawnmower if you don’t have a garden chipper/shredder.

* Chopped leaves rot more quickly than whole ones but still take quite a while to compost unless mixed with a nitrogen source.

* Grass clippings are very high in nitrogen.

Thing to do:

one-shot mowing and leaf sweeping

one-shot mowing and leaf sweeping

Mow with the bagger on. No denying it’s a royal pain to have to empty the bag every few passes, but the payoff is leaf removal, a neatly mown lawn and el-perfecto compost mix, all at the same time. ( If the leaf cover is extremely heavy you may have to do a quick cleanup pass after the initial mow. It doesn’t take long ’cause there’s not much to pick up.)

chopped leaves and grass clippings = quick compost

chopped leaves and grass clippings = quick compost

Best time to do this is when the leaves are about ¾ down, so the grass has time to grow back just a bit before going into the winter.

Note 1: Please don’t think the lawn is routinely deprived of its clippings, aka free fertilizer; the mower is on mulch all spring and summer. This is the only time the bagger gets much use.

Note 2:  I use the bagger system in Maine. Down in the Hudson Valley Bill mows everything with the mulcher on, then rakes the result. I know the bagger is neater and I’m pretty sure it’s faster, too, but we’ve never had a race so I can’t say for sure.

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