For lots of homeowners, the yearly task of raking leaves is a bothersome chore. Each year when fall rolls around and the leaves start to fly, sighs are heaved en masse as reluctant hands wearily reach for garden rakes.
If leaf raking could be just a one-time job without leaving your lawn looking a mess for weeks, perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. But that’s not the way Mother Nature rolls. The leaves don’t drop all at once as if by some universal cue; instead, they flutter to the earth in dribs and drabs.
And that forces you to choose from two unpleasant choices:
- Leave your lawn looking an unkempt, unsightly mess until all the leaves have fallen, and then have one massive raking session to clear the accumulation
- Have multiple raking sessions to keep your lawn clear during all the weeks that the leaves are falling.
Of course, once you’ve completed the drudgery of a raking session, you have a huge pile of leaves on your hands. You have to do something with them.
Burning them or hauling them to the landfill are traditional solutions, but are rather frowned upon in these days of environmental conscientiousness. Another alternative is to use the leaves as mulch. Mulching is a wonderfully environmentally friendly solution, but it takes lots of effort, time and trouble.
Or does it?
Mow to Mulch
If you’re one of the many that dreads the annual leaf-raking ordeal, you’ll be glad to learn that it’s no longer necessary. Lawn care experts now grant you permission to just forget about raking up all those leaves. The experts now recommend an easier, faster, better solution to the fall flood of leaves: mow them.
Just remove the grass-catcher from your mower, fire it up, and have at those leaves. You’ll probably want to raise the height of the mower above the level at which you’ve been mowing your grass. If you happen to have a mulching mower, that’s great. And don’t try to mow the leaves when they’re wet.
Make multiple passes if you need to; your goal is to reduce the leaves to dime-sized pieces, with at least a half-inch of grass showing through the layer of mulched leafs.
You’ll probably want to have several leaf-mowing sessions throughout the fall, so that the pile of leaves doesn’t become too thick for the mower to handle – just as you’d likely have several leaf raking sessions.
Leaf mowing is obviously much easier and faster than raking, and then burning or hauling leaves. So it’s better for you (Or whoever gets shanghaied into leaf-raking duty at your house; a petulantly protesting kid, perhaps?).
But it’s better for your lawn, as well. Because those leaves are just cram-packed with nature’s nutrients, manufactured from the sun and drawn from the very ground that grows your grass. So instead of hauling all of those nutrients away, or losing them to a cloud of smoke, you’ll be re-feeding them to your lawn.
As soon as you’ve mown your leaves into mulch, an army of tiny microbes will set to the task of breaking the leaves down into their elemental nutrients, giving your lawn a nice, healthy, natural feed. By springtime, there’ll be no trace of last fall’s flood of leaves – except, perhaps, in the healthy green glow of your lawn.
It’s an elegant solution to a universally despised problem. And it’s expert-approved.