Why You Should Mulch Leaves, Not Rake Them

This article was written by Tom Oder and first appeared on Mother Nature Network It’s the annual fall dilemma. The leaves that have fallen on the lawn need to be removed, but there are more on the trees. Should you rake them up now or wait until the limbs are bare?

Neither! Bag the rake, not the leaves.

Instead of raking leaves, stuffing them into lawn bags and hauling the bags to the curb, mow them with a mulching mower – a lawnmower with a specially designed high deck and a mulching blade that chops leaves into fragments as tiny as confetti. As the shredded leaves decompose, they will act as a natural fertilizer and weed control agent.

For those who insist on a spotless lawn year-round and might be concerned about what the neighbors will think of the brown leaf bits the mower leaves behind, don’t worry. The shredded leaves will filter through the grass and disappear from sight. In northern lawns that go dormant or in grasses such as Bermuda or zoysia that turn a dormant brown color in winter, the shredded leaves may even blend right in. Better yet, if you continue this practice each fall, in a few years mulching can help you have a luscious spring and summer lawn free of dandelions and crabgrass that will be the envy of people up and down the street.

Here’s a guide on how to take advantage of autumn leaves, the best free resource for your lawn.

The problem with fall leaves

Leaves that are not removed from your lawn block sunlight and air from reaching the grass. The problem becomes worse when it rains or there are early snows that turn fluffy layers of leaves into soggy mats. The lack of light and air circulation can cause turf diseases or, in a worst-case scenario, may even smother the grass and kill it...