Apparently, mulching the leaves is the only safe and economical solution to get rid of autumn’s waste but Is Mulching Leaves Good (or Bad) For Your Lawn? Let’s find out!
As the autumn has reached its peak and the yellowish-brown foliage has started to carpet our lawns, every one of us is confused about the best method to get rid of these fallen leaves. We all know that if these leaves are not cleared on time, they could become the reason for the sprouting of too many uncontrollable grass diseases. So, what should we do?
Pick up the rake, pile up the leaves and put them into the baggage to dump? You might be unaware of the fact but recent surveys have shown that about 35 billion yard waste is added to landfills each year. And this yard waste comprises only leaves and lawn residue.
So, if we keep on dumping the leaves in the same manner, the time is near when we won’t have any landfill to toss out the waste and our entire planet would transform into a trash pit.
To control land pollution, we really need to adopt other environmentally-friendly ways and the most common and most recommended method, in this regard, is to mulch the leaves. However, if you are confused about whether mulching leaves is good for your lawn or not, let’s have a look at some benefits of mulching leaves so we could go towards this disposing hack with more confidence!
Is mulching leaves actually good for your lawn?
The answer to this question is yes! However, the benefits you’ll unlock on mulching your yard waste are not only associated with the betterment of your landscape but also with the preservation of mother nature.
On dumping the leaves into the landfills, the leaves somehow reach the sewerage and start to decay gradually. The broken-down nutrients of decaying leaves feed the microorganisms which lead to severe consequences of water pollution like immense growth of algae blooms and eruption of smell and sewerage gases.
On the other hand, when we mulch the leaves, instead of throwing them in trash cans, these leaves don’t escape to reach the water resources and become a permanent part of the soil present in our yard. Since the falling leaves are full of nitrogen and other minerals, they act as a nutrient-rich supplement for the plants present in our garden beds and turfgrass. But why do we need to chop the leaves down? Why we cannot throw the leaves in the garden beds or lawns?
The answer to this question is simple. Bigger leaves take months to decompose. Plus, they can easily block the passage of air, sunlight and moisture to the grass, due to which, the turf starts to die gradually. In the worst conditions, these leaves get compressed and soggy which make the environment favourable for the pest, mould and weed’s growth.
On the other hand, when the leaves are chopped down into tiny fragments, they decompose quickly and mix with the soil to feed both the plants and healthy microbes. Since the leaf shreds are extremely fine in texture, they don’t block the sunlight and air throughout the season which in turn, leads to a luscious, green lawn. Some other benefits of mulching the leaves are as followsSave your time, money and energy
Raking the leaves into piles is quite a tiresome job and when you have to haul all the waste into baggage, you will end up getting knackered. Not only this, but you also have to pay many dollars each month to get the services of waste dumping companies for picking up these bags from your lawn.
Speaking of worst, then such waste dumping services are not even available in some states which means you won’t only have to rake and haul the leaves but also have to load the heftier bags on a vehicle and transport them to the landfills.Act as a weed preventer
The weed seeds can acquire a state of dormancy during unfavourable environments and as soon as the environment becomes favourable, they start to germinate. However, when you add a two to three inches deep layer of leaf mulch over the soil, the mulch particles act as a barrier and inhibit the seeds from sprouting out.
Even many gardeners have reported that when they cover the soil with leaf mulch, they observe very little or almost no problem regarding the common weeds like dandelion and crabgrass in the successive spring. In this way, your autumn’s yard waste saves your money to be spent on purchasing weed killers and preventers.Space efficient and looks natural
Storing the leaves without mulching them would grab too much room whereas on mulching them, you can reduce the baggage size to at least 16:1. In other words, if you are storing sixteen bags of leaves, an average-performing leaf mulcher could chop those sixteen bags of leaves to make a single mulched leaf bag.
Moreover, the finely chopped leaves, when placed over the soil, don’t look noticeable or prominent at all so you can confidently use these mulched leaves as a natural weed killer and fertiliser. On the other hand, the commercially available mulch could never be more organic and nutrient-rich, nor could it look natural or smell-free.Improve the soil quality
As stated before, the tiny leaf shreds, when added to the soil, feed the healthy microorganisms. These microbes, then break down the other packed nutrients present within the soil to make them available for plant’s uptake.
Likewise, as the leaf mulch keeps on feeding the microbes, they increase in number which leads to higher microbial activity. Resultantly, the soil quality gets improved and it becomes more nutrient-rich and airer.
How can you mulch the leaves?
Mulching leaves is not a daunting or time-consuming process at all, especially when you have the best leaf mulcher by your side. Fortunately, various appliances are available in the market where a metal or high-grade plastic impeller chop the leaves down.
During the process, all you need to do is to pile up the leaves and then add them, in sections, into the funnel head. The rotating blades, in turn, shred the leaves into small bits, sometimes to grain-like consistency.
Not only the leaves but some high-end leaf mulchers can even mulch the other yard wastes including the sticks, branches, and even the fallen fruits. Sharper the blades or trimmer line, finer the leaf mulch is obtained. You can readily add the mulch to the different parts of your yard and store the remaining mulch to be used as a fertiliser for the next seasons.
Is mulching leaves bad for your lawn?
As a newbie and a conscious gardener, you must be wondering about the negative side of mulching leaves and you are not wrong in doing so. Just like other things, the process of mulching leaves also comes with its specific pros and cons. However, by adopting some useful strategies, we can also minimise the cons and get the most out of leaf mulch. What are the disadvantages of mulching leaves and how you can minimise their impacts, let’s find out!
Too thick mulch layer can hinder air and sunlight
If you are having too many trees in your garden, then there would be, obviously, too many falling leaves that you need to get rid of. Yes, you can mulch all the leaves at once to suppress bagger size but remember that it’s not essential to use all the mulch at once.
Don’t forget that too much thicker layer of mulch could cover the grass way too much, which in turn, could hinder the air and sunlight to reach soil and turf. In this case, you won’t only harm your grass but also waste the energy you utilised to chop the leaves down.
Not only this but a too thicker layer of mulch could also increase the temperature of the soil and due to this overheating, your plants would suffocate and their roots might burn out.
Thus, to avoid such consequences, it’s important to create only a thin layer of leaf mulch over the soil which can undergo breakdown quickly. According to our gardening experts, you should aim for only two to four inches thick layers of mulch.
Too wet mulch could lead to lawn problems
The idea of mulching leaves is appealing only when you have dry yard waste since the wet leaves are not only hard to chop into fine pieces, but also clog the mulcher.
Even if you succeed to mulch the wet leaves finely, you cannot use them until it gets dried. If you do so, the wet mulch will trap the moisture beneath the layer and make the soil medium favourable for pests and fungal growth. Resultantly, your turfgrass would become a house of moulds, bacteria, and too many hazardous agents.
Thus, to get the most out of mulch leaves, we’d suggest letting the leaves dry first so they couldn’t smoothen the turf or lead to any sort of lawn problems.
Clearing the carpeted leaves from your lawn is important to maintain a hygienic environment and your garden’s aesthetics. However, this clean-up should not end up damaging our ecosystem in any way. Remember, if you rake the leaves to haul them in baggage for disposal, it will end up polluting the land.
Similarly, if you burn the dried leaves to minimise the tonnage, it will end up stuffing our air with hazardous chemicals. On the other hand, if you mulch the leaves, you will get nutrient-rich, gold-standard soil for free of cost.