Once you’ve finished cleaning your gutters, next up is getting the leaves off of the lawn. Mulching is much easier than raking, and the organic matter breaks down and releases nutrients. It also keeps the leaves out of landfills. Mulch can also reduce development of some weeds, like dandelions. So if you want to try it this fall, how do you get started?

You can mulch with a regular lawn mower by taking off the grass catcher off your mower and setting the blade to its highest setting. It may take a few passes to get the job done. However, it is better to use a mulching mower or mulching blades. This is because they break down the leaves into smaller pieces with decompose faster, instead of sitting around on your lawn possibly blocking the sunlight and water and even getting sticky and moldy after rain.

A good rule of thumb is to not mulch constantly, but rather do it in between raking or leaf-blowing sessions. If the leaves are clumpy and not spread pretty evenly, or if there are simply too many leaves, it can kill the grass. If you do decide to do it more often, make sure to do it once a week or so—before the leaves become too much to handle. You cannot wait until the leaves are piling up five inches high—get to them sooner. You’ll also want to mulch when it has been dry.

If you’re using a regular mower and afterwards you cannot see any grass at all, reattach the bag to the mower and go through one more time. Add the mulched leaves from this round to gardens beds or a compost pile.

Microbes and worms recycle the carbon from the leaf bits, and microbes can do their job better with nitrogen. You can get lawn food to help break down the leaves even faster.


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