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What to do with all those Fall leaves?
To most people it is a misconception that leaves need to be swept, raked, bagged and hauled away. In the natural ecosystem, no one does anything with leaves that have fallen to the ground. They simply land where they land, decompose, and the process is essential to building healthy soils. So why not do this with your lawn? Really people raked their leaves because they’ve always thought that was what they had to do or they simply don’t like the mess.
Well it’s recommended by lawn care professionals to make mulching those fallen leaves a part of the fall lawn care regimen. The pros say “Mulching fallen leaves into the lawn is advantageous, so long as about 75% of the grass canopy is left visible,” Basically this mean that if you see more green than brown after mulching there is no need to worry about winter molding. Following this recommendation allows air circulation to be more than adequate.
Grass should be mowed and watered well into the fall months. When leaves have fallen just mow right over them, either with your regular lawn mower (it will take a few extra passes) or mulching blades. Mulching blades can be purchased for any lawn mower and cost around $40-$100 depending on your mower. Leave the grass clippings and chopped-up leaves to rest on the lawn surface. They’ll settle into the lawn, providing some nutrients and organic matter for the soil below.
Leaf mold AKA Black Gold
What if you have more leaves than your lawn can absorb? Instead of taking them away you can create leaf mold. This may not sound pretty, but to gardeners it’s “black gold.” Here’s a couple of ways to create black gold; The easiest is to make a pile of leaves, either contained or not contained, about 3’ by 3’. Let the leaves sit, adding water periodically, and within 6-10 months, they’ll have decomposed. Shredding the leaves will help them decompose faster than un-shredded ones. Also keeping the pile moist will help decomposition happen faster.
The result is dark, rich mulch that is arguably the best soil amendment around. While leaf mold doesn’t provide the nutrients of regular compost, it does greatly improve soil structure, texture and water holding capacity. Leaf mold helps loosen heavy soils and adds heft to sandy soils. It can hold several hundred times its weight in water, and helps create a healthy ecosystem for beneficial insects. This is a great start for the springtime. Soils that contain leak mold are known to be well drained and evenly moist. This is important for gardening or to have lush green healthy grass.
If you don’t have the space for piles of leaves or have a compost container to make leaf mold in then use bags. Fill your compostable yard waste into bags instead of having them hauled away. After filling them place the leak filled bags on the side of your house. Moisten the contents periodically and, by spring, bags and leaves should have decomposed into a dark brown to black, aromatic and crumbly leaf mold.
Products that assist
Many lawn care professionals use products such as Scotts® Turf Builder® WinterGuard®. The microbes inside the WinterGuard® help break down leaves faster by recycling carbon. This helps prepare your lawn for a stronger faster springtime growth. An early fall feeding will replenish the nutrients that may have been lost from the harsh summer months. This helps your lawn make a quicker recovery strengthen the roots before going into the dormancy months of the year. Professionals recommend fertilizing your lawn four times a year; Early & Late Spring, Early & Late Fall.
Here’s what Scotts® Turf Builder® WinterGuard® consumers are saying:
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