Should I Mulch Leaves or Should I Rake Leaves?

Fall can be an invigorating and colorful time of the year.

The crisp sting to the air and the sizzling red and orange leaves can give us a burst of energy that summer may have sapped.  The problem with those colorful leaves is that soon they will be on the ground, covering our lawns in a layer of red and gold.

That layer can make trouble for your lawn and garden, too. If left unattended, autumn leaves can turn into a thick cover over your precious grasses and plants, and it’s a cover that does a great job of keeping out the air and the sunshine that plants and grasses need to thrive. Lack of proper air and light circulation can lead to turf disease or, even worse, death to grasses and plants. What’s more, rain and snow can dampen that layer of leaves, making it even tougher for sunlight and air to make their way to your lawn and garden.

So it’s clear that you need to get rid of those leaves, but just the thought of getting the rake out of the garage and spending hours raking and bagging piles of leaves makes your back feel sore. So what are you to do? Well, I have some good news—you can put that rake away. When you mulch leaves with a good mulching mower it will save you time, money and an aching back.

We loves those red and gold leaves until they hit the ground. Then its time to mulch leaves!

We loves those red and gold leaves until they hit the ground. Then its time to mulch leaves!

How Does Mulching Leaves Help My Lawn?

When you mulch leaves into tiny shreds, you’re making them small enough for the critters that live in your soil to feed on them. Microorganisms and earthworms that live in your soil break down the mulched leaves, and in doing so provide the roots of your plants and grasses with much-needed nutrients. This means that you are fertilizing your lawn and garden without having to spend money on fertilizer. Leaves are a rich source of carbon as well, which can be a great way to balance out nitrogen-rich organic material such as mulched grass.

What Are The Other Benefits of Mulching Leaves?

Glad you asked, as there are quite a few other benefits to mulching your leaves. One of the main benefits is that mulching leaves is a time-and-money saving alternative to constant fertilization of your lawn. Three years of mulching will give you 100% decrease in dandelions and crabgrass. More great news on mulching, especially for those of us living in northern climates, is that mulched materials provides a layer of insulation for tender plants and grasses during the cold winter months. Along with helping plants by providing insulation, your mulched leaves can also help your soil by lightening heavy soil or by helping sandy soil to retain moisture.

Want to show off your lawn and your Orec equipment in Spring? Mulch leaves in fall!

Want to show off your lawn and your Orec equipment in Spring? Mulch leaves in fall!

 

When is The Best Time to Mulch Leaves?

When deciding when to mulch, use the eye test. If there is still some grass peeping up out of the layer of leaves, then it is time to mulch. Mulch now and you’ll give you garden and lawn the mulch they need. Plus, the leaves won’t yet be too thick for your mower to handle.

What is The Ideal Mulching Mower?

The perfect mulching mower is one that mulches well (of course!) and has an adjustable cutting height. The more often the mower cuts the material as it pulls it in, the better the mulch. Cutting leaves multiple times increases surface area, giving microbes and earthworms more room in which to work. A finer mulch of leaves also keeps the leaves from packing in to layers which could defeat the purpose of mulching. As for blade height, you will want a mower that has a high cut setting (around 4” is great). This way, you can cut the leaves without cutting too much of the grass. You can also make sure that the mower doesn’t get bogged down by trying to mulch too much material at one time.

Orec’s Cyclone Walk Behind Flail Mower is a great choice for mulching leaves. The flail knives will pull in the leaves, cut them multiple times and then discard them from the rear. This will leave plenty of mulch for your lawn. You can adjust the blade height setting from 2” to 4” just by turning a handle at the cutting deck. This gives you the ability to adjust cutting height depending on the thickness of the leaves. For more information on the Cyclone Flail Mower, click here.

For the Orec dealer or rental yard nearest to you, click here.

One Final Tip…

When you mulch leaves, you should start from the outside of your lawn and then work your way in. By doing so, you can cut the leaves multiple times. You will also be less likely discharge the mulched leaves on to your sidewalks and driveway.

So there you have it. If you mulch leaves, you will save time, money and a sore back. It leads to a lawn healthy too,  which will make you the envy of your neighbors come next spring.

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Written by Brett Masker