This article is provided by chapter member Martin Byhower, Thank you, Martin, for sharing your experience!
by Martin Byhower
It’s Your Nature
February 7, 2018
“Leaves” them Be!
Don’t Toss that Fallen Foliage
Tired of raking and bagging all those leaves? Hate dragging them to the curb? Running to Home Depot to buy more lawn bags? Or maybe you are paying a lot of money for your lawn folks to use noisy blowers and then haul off your unwanted “browns”?
A better option is to simply mulch-mow the leaves that fall onto your lawn. (You can rake the ones in your garden beds and walkways onto your lawn first.) You may need to go over a spot once, or occasionally two more additional times, until the leaves are in dime-sized pieces or smaller, but it will be worth it! Now you know why you see some folks “mowing” their brown lawns in winter!
Recent studies by Michigan State University and others confirm that leaving your leaves as shredded mulch has the following benefits:
- decomposes to become rich compost
- retains moisture (reducing amount of watering necessary)
- prevents weeds (!)
- provides essential nutrients to your lawn and garden
- insulates soil from drying out or freezing
- reduces or ends the need for fertilizers, weed killers, even aeration
- keeps a huge amount of waste out of landfills
I have large live and post oaks, cedar elms, and other trees growing over my Emerald Zoysia lawn, and I’ve been mulching most of my yard during the 3 years I have lived at my current home. I have never used any sort of supplements, pesticides, or herbicides on my soil, and I challenge anyone to detect any difference between my yard and my neighbors! The mulched leaves magically blend in or break down and disappear within days after mulching, as the soil microorganisms go to work turning them into plant-loving organic matter. Mulching the leaves prevents problems caused if you leave the leaves in place. If you have a lawn service, they should know all about this and be happy to do it for you (if not, hire someone better!)
A few more notes. Nitrogen is what greens up your lawn. Lawn clippings and deer poop contribute nitrogen back to your soil, and good old rain water is also an excellent source. (Lightning striking Nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere converts it to nitrates, which then dissolves in and falls as raindrops.)
And if you DO have excess leaves, consider putting them in a reusable plastic or metal trash bin on your curb on the first (Georgetown and Sun City) recycle day of each month. These go to the trash transfer location near San Gabriel Park and are turned into mulch, which the city then gives back to you, if you like, free of charge! Soon, the city of Georgetown will be offering Sun City and Georgetown residents sticker labels you can put on your bin to ensure it is clear what its purpose is.