Mulching leaves into the lawn is a wonderful way to replace nutrients and increase organic matter. Our tractor circulates the leaves three times so they are pretty fine when they emerge. There are inexpensive attachments for many mowers that increase their mulching capacity by recirculating the leaves. You can also mow over them several times to grind them if your mower doesn't recirculate the leaves. Mulching leaves into the lawns works really well if you keep after it and mulch regularly, not letting the leaves to accumulate. In a very few areas where the leaves are really heavy we mulch them and use them on flower and vegetable beds. Mulched leaves are also a great addition to a compost pile.
If you ever gather leaves to increase fertility, it's best to put available time into gathering as much as you can. They break down without chopping or other fussing, provided you have a suitable spot and no time constraint.
For mulching leaves, I like cordless electric mowers. The stench of gas machines is worse when working one spot over and over.
http://www.durgan.org/URL/?DUQHM 7 November 2011 Mulching leaves with Lawnmower.
All the leaves on my property are mulched with the lawnmower and left where they fall. The lawnmower grass exit port is held closed with a self tapping screw. The pile of leaves are run over by slightly lifting the front of the lawnmower, and the leaves are instantly chopped into small pieces. They are left where they fall for fertilizer. It is not necessary to put the leaves in a pile, but it simplifies matters by doing so.
posted 6 years ago
Thanks for all the feedback! I mulch and bag. Some stays on the lawn and some go into the bad. I have a "dead" bed I put lawn clippings at the end of the mowing season and now a layer of mulched leaves. I hope to put hosta and fern in that bed next year. I've also put the leaves around the base of a couple of small trees leaving space around the trunks. I live in a gardening town and my neighbors are watching! I did NOT put out 15-20 bags of leaves on the curb from a small to middling yard!
Hello Diane and welcome! Quick question...I shred all of my leaves and place them in the garden beds as mulch. Is it OK to mulch right up to the plants or should I be leaving a space around them?
posted 6 years ago
Yes, leave some space around the base of your tree or shrub when you mulch. This prevents rot and decreases the chance of mouse damage. Also, the roots spread out from the base at least the breadth of the plant, and that is where the mulch is most effective. Use about two to four inches of leaf mulch. It not only returns nutrients, but helps the soil conserve water.
I have 53 trees in my "yard" that are mostly huge oak with a few large maples and hickory mixed in. When the leaves fall, they form a mat more than a foot thick. We cannot leave them where they fall, and in the past I have made the terrible mistake of collecting them and burning them on my garden. Last year, we did an "experiment" with some leaves by shredding them and putting them between rows in the garden as mulch. I say "experiment" because my dad thought I was crazy for changing the way things have been done for his whole life. Guess what? well, there were VERY few weeds where the leaves were placed and the soil is much better now with almost none left by the time fall came again.
This year, we have collected leaves with a bagger lawnmower, then put them through a leaf shredder (because I want them smaller, the lawnmower picks up the leaves and only shreds a few) and we'll store them till spring. This SHOULD provide us with some fantastic leaf mold with a few larger leaves mixed in that we can use in the garden and around plants without buying mulch from now on. I'm trying to retrofit a leaf shredder with one of those heads from a weedeater with blades on it so trimmer string wont have to be replaced constantly due to all the tiny oak twigs that get picked up.
We've collected so many SO FAR that we have a chicken wire container that is 4 foot by 15 foot long 3 foot deep (or more) with shredded, mashed down, and now wet leaves. There are MANY more out there to get.
I'm also going to use them as mulch in my greenhouse under construction.
ps, I collect them because of the volume (and the oak leaves) there would still be 8 or 10 inches of wet heavy leaves in the spring of next year and then they are nearly impossible to deal with. I have a few ornamentals in the back yard as well as the fact that the leaves never stay where they fall and blow around the house like a snowdrift piling up up to 3 feet against the basement garage door. It is a veritable deluge!
I have been doing this a few years. I am surrounded by forest and have many large trees so I have a pile about as big as a bus. Twice as long and half as tall. I chop them up with the mower until they are pretty small pieces and leave turn them a few times and about 18 months later it is pure gold. The first summer they are jam packed full of worms which speeds the breakdown and adds nutrients. I guess that takes away some of the leaf mold properties but it is great stuff. You can use it as is for planting containers or topping off beds. I love the stuff. Last year I threw some clover seed on top thinking I will have more nitrogen in it when I use it this spring. The surrounding trees send a lot of roots up into the pile to feast on it.
Mulching leaves directly into the yard with the mower is definitely the way to go if you don't have a ton of leaves falling, which is usually the case for myself. Sometimes we'll get large piles of them gathering against the fence, and in these cases, I usually rake them directly into the garden beds and landscaping. You can rake a very large number of leaves, say 3 or 4 feet high, into your garden beds in the fall and it really gives the beds a great boost the next year. For massive amounts of leaves (which I actually go out and collect from my neighbors), you can set up a cage made by looping a section of hardware cloth together (3x10 feet or so) with wire and stuff the leaves into the cage. You can cram a massive quantity of leaves into a small area. By next summer you will have a wonderful quantity of broken down leaf compost to use around the garden as mulch.