If you have any number of trees on your property, chances are that you deal with leaf drop each year. While the default decision for many is to rake or bag them up, most Ohio homeowners are unaware of the benefits that mulching leaves brings.
Mulched Leaves Become Fertilizer
Why do some homeowners mulch their leaves? Chopped up leaves make an excellent fertilizer for your lawn. The leaves of deciduous trees contain around 2 percent nitrogen, which is a vital nutrient for most plants including grass. As the leaves begin to decompose, this gives your soil and lawn a little boost that can work in conjunction with our organic fertilizing.
The mulching process can be as simple as a routine mow where you’re walking or riding your mower across the lawn areas with the mower deck closed (as opposed to opened with a side discharge). This process allows the mower blades to continually spin and break down leaves and other debris in your lawn.
Here’s a pro tip – as the temperatures begin to cool down in Ohio (usually late-October – November), it is best practice to lower the blade height on your mower by 0.5 inches each week to reach the grass height at approximately 2-2.5 inches. This will make the mulching process smoother and your lawn will be less likely to experience fungus problems like snow mold among others.
Depending on the volume of leaves in your yard, you may need to mulch several times. Once or twice a week is ideal if you have large trees that are consistently dropping their leaves. To make the job easier, pick a time in the afternoon on a day when the sun is out to ensure as little moisture as possible. Dry leaves will be shredded into near-dust when they are dry, especially if they fell off the tree several days ago.
Lastly, make sure to spread out piles of leaves left over after you finish mulching. Spread the clumps around your yard with a leaf blower as small piles of leaves left behind will prevent the grass from taking in light from the sun that it needs for the upcoming winter months.
Certain Leaf Types Are Easier To Mulch Than Others
Leaves from ash or maple trees can be more difficult for mower blades to chop up. So before mulching, it will help immensely to make sure those leaves have been off the tree for multiple days so they have a chance to dry out. By comparison, oak leaves are easier to break down. But mulched leaves from both maple and oak trees have been found to reduce dandelion populations in lawns with Kentucky Bluegrass, so it’s worth the additional work if you have to drive over maple leaves a few times to mulch them down.
Leaves Left On Your Lawn Can Be A Problem
Sometimes your property has too many leaves on the ground. You do not want the leaves to block out sunlight to your lawn because it can be detrimental to its health. If it is possible, you should try to mulch as many leaves as possible. If your lawn experiences such a large volume of leaf drop that leaves your grass completely covered after several rounds of mulching, you may need to run the mower through your lawn with the bagging system to collect the excess and then compost the debris or haul to a yard waste site.
With an added boost of nitrogen as the leaves decompose and time saved with mulching leaves as opposed hours upon hours spent bagging, mulching leaves is the best plan for cleaning up your yard in the fall.