One of the biggest chores in a lawn is tree leaf removal. People will do whatever it takes raking, blowing or vacuuming, to get those leaves off the lawn. Leaves should not be left to sit on top of your grass. Not only do the leaves block sun light getting to the grass, the area under fallen leaves stays damp and is a breeding ground for fungus that can damage the turf.
The major problem with leaf removal is the disposal. Some homeowners and municipalities compost leaves and yard waste which can later be used as an amendment to flower bed or spread out over lawns. Composting is a great use for this organic matter. Far too often though, raked leaves find there way into landfills, which is not an environmentally sound practice.
The best method for weed control is mowing the leaves with a mulching mower and letting them fall to the soil, right where they are. Studies at Purdue University show that mulching leave into the turf can actually be beneficial to the soil and grass. Soils with mulched leaves showed increased microbial activity and better water infiltration. A Michigan State University study showed that when leaves were mulched into established turf the grass greened up quicker in the spring and also had fewer dandelions in the spring. It was also found that the mulched leaves will breakdown quicker if a fall fertilizer application is applied.
Mulching leaves also has some hidden benefits. The repeated mowing needed to mulch the leaves actually thickens the grass by encouraging it to grow laterally. It was often thought that mulching leaves into the yard would thin out your lawn but now it has been repeatedly proven that mulching leaves into the grass will build a healthier lawn in the next year. Save yourself time and increase your lawn’s health by keeping the rake in storage and mulching tree leaves with your mower.