A very common question I hear is, is mulching leaves good for the lawn? Well, I am happy to tell you that generally, yes! Using mulch benefits your lawn and garden a lot, but only when done correctly.
Making mulch out of fallen leaves is a common buzzword in garden and lawn maintenance, but is it really necessary? Well no, but one thing is for sure, mulching saves you labour and disposes of your leaves in an eco-friendly manner. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to clean up leaves.
So, let’s take a look at the benefits of mulching leaves, as well as the ‘how to make and use leaf mulch’ for a much healthier lawn, flower beds, and gardening patch
Contents (Jump to Topic)
Should You Leave Leaves On Your Lawn?
Although some garden blogs may advise that you leave leaves on your lawn, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. The nuanced answer is that you should mulch Autumn leaves and spread this over the lawn to get maximum benefits, without the disadvantages that come with leaving whole leaves heaped up over your lawn.
These are some of the pros and cons of leaving whole leaves on a lawn.
Advantages Of Leaving Whole Leaves
- Helps to protect soil from frost and freezing temperatures in winter
- Decomposing leaves add nutrients to the soil
- Requires zero effort on your part
& The Disadvantages
- Can smother grass, creating mold and brown spots
- May attract pests and non-friendly wildlife
- Slippery when wet
- Not the prettiest sight for those of you that are lawn proud
Now, Here Are The Benefits Of Mulched Leaves On A Lawn
The process of leaf mulching provides you with a wonderful natural organic material. Not only does this add nutrients to the soil on a lawn or flowerbed, similar to fertilizer, but it also saves you the job of raking leaves. Moreover, it is great for lawn health and a clever eco-friendly way to remove leaves without them ending up in landfill.
These are just some of the reasons to convince you is mulching leaves is good for your garden and lawn:
- No raking leaves or disposing of them
- Improved turf quality
- Mulching blades remove leaf litter and twigs
- With a mulching mower, the job is quick and easy
- Less volume when bagging leaves
- Reduces growth of weeds
- Reduces garden waste in landfills
- Greatly boosts nutrient levels in the soil
- No need to pay for lawn bags or leaf removal
- Less strenuous than raking
- Mulch can be added to garden beds to protect against frost
- Can be added to the compost pile
- Greener and healthier grass all year round
So, What’s The Best Way To Mulch Leaves Into Your Lawn? Like This
The quickest, easiest, and best way to do it is with a lawn mower mulcher. For those of you that don’t have a mulching mower or a mulching blade fitted, you can use a regular lawnmower, but, this will not do the job as quickly or quite as efficiently.
Although mowing leaves does the job, you will probably have to run over the lawn a couple of times. By doing this the mulch will be chopped much smaller, which serves two purposes.
Firstly, the smaller the leaves are chopped the faster they will decompose. And, secondly, for those of you that like a leaf-free lawn, the leaf litter will disappear into the grass on the second pass.
- Lawn mower with mulching function (or a leaf blower with vacuuming and mulching capabilities)
- Fan leaf rake (here’s why you should rake leaves)
- Any safety gear
1. Wait For A Thin Layer Of Leaves
Before shredding leaves with a lawnmower, wait until the leaf layer is approximately 1.5 inches thick and no more. Any thicker and you may end up with too much mulch on your lawn, which can turn moldy.
This may mean mulching the lawn 2-3 times per month during the Autumn season.
2. Spread Leaves Evenly Over Your Lawn
Using (ideally) a leaf rake, or any rake will do in a pinch, remove leaves from flowerbeds and underneath bushes and spread these over the lawn until there is a semi-even layer across the entire lawn. This ensures all areas benefit from the nutrients.
3. Shred Leaves With A Mower, Mower Mulcher Or Leaf Vacuum/Mulcher
The first pass over the lawn with the lawn mower method is for shredding leaves. You will need to set the lawnmower higher than for cutting grass, about 2-3 inches. In order to get the best results, move in lines as you would for mowing regularly, i.e from left to right or up and down.
Obviously, if you plan to use a leaf vacuum or leaf blower & mulcher combo, you’ll want to collect the leaves into one area, mulch them, and then spread them around the garden evenly.
4. Now Mow The Lawn In The Opposite Direction
It is important that on the second pass, you move in the opposite direction. So, if you went from left to right, now go up and down. This is to downsize the already shredded leaves further, ensuring that they decompose quickly.
If you repeat this step in the same direction as you did in step 3, you may end up with large chunks of leaves still left in the grass.
5. Repeat Steps 3 & 4 (If Needed)
Depending on how efficiently your mulching blade works, you may have to repeat steps 3 and 4 until you get the ideal leaf mold.
6. Remove Excess Leaf Mold
Remember, lawns only need 1 inch of mulch. If your layer of mulch is thicker than this, simply pass over your lawn again using the collection bag.
Unfortunately, if your mower does not have a bag then you will need to rake. This will help remove any excess from the mulched layer to ensure you’ve not overdone it and end up with mold or brown spots.
7. Add Lawn Feed (Optional)
If it’s the time of year when you would usually add feed to your lawn, the final step go would be to go ahead and feed your lawn as normal. Of course, you may want to reduce the amount of feed as the lawn should have a healthy amount of nutrients from the mulch itself.
Additional Lawn Care Tips & Maintenance
Mulch adds healthy soil microbes to the lawn which is why you get greener and stronger grass. However, you will only get a healthy lawn if you do the mulching correctly whilst still keeping up with other lawn care tasks.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts of mulching to get better results.
- Add mulched leaves to flower beds and under other plants such as trees and shrubs
- Invest in a good mulching mower
- Rake fallen leaves into an even spread
- Remove excess mulch
- Apply more than 1 inch of leaf mulch on the lawn
- Wait too long before mulching the lawn
- Try to mulch large excess amounts of leaves
So In Conclusion
And there have it, mulching tree leaves is a great solution for getting rid of sightly leaves, whilst taking care of your lawn and garden, giving it all the vital nutrients it needs to stay green, strong, and healthy all year round.
Not only that, but it’s also a much easier and more environmentally friendly option compared to raking or using a leaf blower to simply bag leaves and throw them into landfill.
So, next time you have a layer of leaves on your lawn, think about mulching, rather than disposing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If you still have more questions about leaf mulchers and what to do with this organic matter, here are a few final things to know about mulching leaves and grass clippings for lawn care.
Can I just mow over my leaves?
As long as the layer of leaves is thin enough, you can just mow over them with a regular lawn mower. However, this is done more easily when your mower model is already fitted with a mulching blade.
How often should you mulch your lawn?
How often you mulch your lawn depends, to a certain extent, on how many leaves you have. Wait until there are about 1-2 inches of dead leaves on the ground and then mulch. Once you have a layer of mulch about 1 inch thick that is enough. You now need to rake or collect using a mower with a collection bag.
Will mulched leaves kill grass?
If the layer of mulched leaves is too thick it can smother grass, this can either damage or kill it. Make sure that the blades of grass are always taller than the mulch. The ideal thickness for a layer of mulch on grass is about 1 inch.
How long does it take mulched leaves to decompose?
Mulched leaves decompose faster and take, on average, 3-6 months to decompose, although this does depend on the type of leaves. However, a mulch layer of grass cuttings will disappear and start decomposing after approximately 7 days.