What should I do with all these falling leaves? – Turfgrass Science at Purdue University

What should I do with all these falling leaves?

There is a myth circulating that returning mulched tree leaves can be detrimental to turfgrass quality. The research shows just the opposite. It is true that heavy layers of tree leaves shading the grass can smother and kill grass. However, our research at Purdue and other universities shows that

  • Tree leaves (both oak and maple) can be mulched without any detrimental effects on the soil or turf and usually results in improvements in soil structure.

  • Mulching leaves into the turf will not increase thatch or disease.

  • Leaves have no effect on soil pH and no measureable effect on nutrient availability.

  • Mulching leaves will not result in increased weed pressure and some recent research in Michigan even suggests that mulching leaves back into your lawn can reduce dandelion populations.

Helpful tips:

  • The easiest way to dispose of leaves is to simply mow them into the turf.

  • Regular mowing during the fall will chop the leaves into small pieces and allow them to filter into the turf.

  • Dry leaves mulch more easily and readily than wet leaves.

  • Mulching leaves with a mower is much easier and less time consuming than raking, blowing, and/or vacuuming the leaves like we have done in the past.

  • Mulching leaves disposes of the leaves without filling up our landfills and saves our cities thousands of dollars in disposal costs.

  • Do not burn leaves because of our current burn bans and due to environmental pollution.

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