What To Do With All Those Falling Leaves? – Turfgrass Science at Purdue University

What To Do With All Those Falling Leaves?

It is that time of year when leaves are falling faster than you can rake them in many places. It is important to rake leaves when there are many leaves on the ground (so many that you can’t see the turf underneath) so that heavy layers of leaves will not shade out, smother, and kill turf. However, when only a moderate number of leaves are on the ground, you can use your mower to mulch them back into the turf. Research results at Purdue and other universities demonstrates 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 measurable 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 municipalities thousands of dollars in disposal costs.
  • Do not burn leaves because of our current burn bans and due to environmental pollution.
     

     

Aaron Patton, Turfgrass Extension Specialist
 
 
 
 

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