First, you will have to do a little raking, getting leaves out from under bushes and away from fences. Once you have done that, cut through the leaves, as if you were cutting your lawn. First cut, let’s say, North to South, and after that, cut through them again, East to West. That second pass over the leaves grinds them into confetti, which during the Winter will break down, and fertilize the lawn. You should do this process, every week, like you would if you were cutting the grass, NOT all at once, when they have all fallen.
You don’t have to have a mulching mower to do this process. I have used a self-propelled mulching mower, and your everyday (low-end) mower, and they both work just fine. A plus, with a “starter model ” mover is that it is lighter, and you can even PULL it backwards, if needed. Sometimes when going forward you blow the leaves a bit, where as, when pulling the mower, you suck them in toward the blade.
Always after mowing, unhook the spark plug cap, then turn the mower on its side, and with a garden trowel scrape any built up debris from the underside of the mower. This prevents smells from the decaying wet vegetation buildup.
And finally think about this… In nature there is a perfect cycle. First the trees take the nutrients from the ground, up through the roots, to form the canopy. In the Fall, when the tree sheds its leave, the leaves holding the nutrients fall, decompose, and are AGAIN nutrients for the tree to absorb. The tree ALMOST provides its own food.
When you grind the leaves you are helping this cycle to continue. When you rake and dispose of the leaves, you have just ELIMINATED the second half of the natural cycle. So, maybe, this year, try grinding your leaves, your trees and lawn will LOVE you, and you will be a bit “greener”, by not adding more product to the land fill.
One more tip…Always wear safety glasses when running the mower. A stone, piece of a branch, or some other kind of object could be thrown up in your direction. I wear glasses and put my safety glasses right over my everyday glasses.
So tell me, do you grind your leaves, would you considering giving the GRINDING method a try???
Companion Post ..Applying fertilizer / Weed Control on the Lawn 4-27-2011
Fred, thanks for your article on grinding leaves. I’ve been using my mulching mower to grind up my leaves for two years. I just run over the leaves with my mower and blow them against the back of my garage. Makes it alot easier to rake up the residue against the brick. Middle of January and already my bins smell great. Eric in SC.
Pingback: Fallen Leaves: Grind Them « Gardora.net
I have been grinding up my leaves for 30 years. I even steal my neighbors bagged leaves and grind them up on my lawn. My neighbors cannot understand why my lawn looks better than theirs and they refuse my advice. Oh well, better for me. By June the leaves have turned to black gold. I think my trees are happier. In the fall leave the unground leaves on my flower beds to protect my bulbs that always seem to peak through in December. In spring I rake them out and grind them up and put them back. I am confident that I could just leave them in the bed to break down by themselves but I have to make my husband happy. Dolly Jewell
I have been grinding up leaves as a professional lawn service , for 20 yrs and my lawns always look better than the others in the area. !
Hi Joe, and thanks for the comment. I think it is soo much easier to grind than rake, and you keep all that natural / healthy material for your lawn and garden right on your property. In a way it is like composting, but you don’t have to stir and spread it. Happy gardening in 2012! .
I have been in my house for 1 1/2 years now and did grind my leaves once or twice but I have so many big tree’s there are just to many leaves! During the time they are falling!I have to blow leaves off my roof every three or 4 days to keep up. I am planning on having several of the trees cut down but just have not been able to yet.
Here’s what I wrote on my blog about your idea of running the mulching mower over the autumn leaves. I’m in France:
We do exactly that with some of the leaves — the ones that fall on grassy areas. But we can’t run the mower over the gravel driveways and walkways around the house. So we rake those up and take them out to the vegetable garden plot. Covering the bare earth with a thick layer of leaves prevents grasses and weeds from getting a foothold over the winter. Then in the spring I till all the leaves into the soil a couple of months before we start to sow seeds or set seedlings out.
The climate here in the Loire Valley is mild enough that weeds and grasses grow year-round.