Mulching Saves Time, Money, Labor
There are a number of levels that mulching is great for your lawn. Whether you are mulching leaves or returning lawn clippings back into the lawn, mulching saves time, money, labor, and is a great soil amendment. There is really no need for raking, bagging, or hauling away either leaves or clippings.
Mulch Lawn Clippings Back Into Lawn
As a rule lawn clippings should always be mulched back into the lawn. The benefits of mulching lawn clippings are too numerous and valuable to ignore. From providing nutrients for the soil to saving significant amounts of time and money, mulching the lawn clippings just makes sense. Similar to mulching leaves into the lawn in the fall, lawn clippings add valuable organic matter to the soil.
Mulching Leaves Into the Soil
If after mulching leaves into your lawn you find you have an abundance remaining, it is a good idea to use them as mulch for gardens and planting beds or as filler for your compost pile. You should not be putting them on the curb – especially if they are bound for the landfill. Leaves are free organic matter and should be used on the property they came from when possible. A study by Michigan State University indicates that mulching is 100 percent beneficial for the lawn. Oak leaves and maple leaves were mulched and redistributed through the lawn and found to have a negligible or beneficial effect on turf quality and color. Mulched sugar maple leaves even displayed an inhibitory effect on broadleaf weed seeds like dandelion. While the study somewhat reveals a negligible effect of mulch on the lawn, mulching the leaves back into the lawn is cost effective and labor saving compared with other methods of dealing with leaves. Mulching leaves is inherently better for not just the biodiversity and organic matter of the soil but the greater community by keeping them out of bags and landfills. Mulching leaves into the lawn adds organic matter, which most soils are lacking. Mulched leaves get broken down by earthworms and microorganisms and turned into plant usable organic matter. In an organic lawn care environment, mulching makes perfect sense, as the benefits are agronomic, financial, and environmental.
Mulching Mowers, Kits Emphasized
Mulching is best accomplished with a mulching mower, which is just like any other mower with a few modifications. Mulching kits are usually an option available to mowers at the time of purchase, but mowers can easily be retrofitted as well. Special “mulching” blades with extra cutting surfaces are used in conjunction with added baffling underneath the mower. The output or chute is blocked to trap the clippings underneath the deck. The baffling helps move the clippings around and allows them to be cut multiple times and blown down into the surface of the lawn.
Common Sense Guidelines to Follow
To avoid disappointing results with mulching leaves into the soil practice some common sense guidelines. Do not mulch to the point where the grass is smothered. The lawn should still be vertical and visible through the layer of mulched leaves. In certain areas it may help to spread the mulch around from thick spots to areas with thinner mulch distribution. If there is an overwhelming abundance of leaves it may be wise to collect a portion to use in flowerbeds, gardens, or compost pile. The lawn is only one beneficial area to use mulched leaf material. The overall goal should be to avoid raking, collecting, handling and disposing off-site of all leaves. This would save untold quantities of money, labor and resources.