A lawn mower might be the most valuable implement for homeowners coping with the annual deluge of fall leaves, said Todd Ruedt, owner of Grounds Maintenance Services, Brookfield (http://www.groundsmaintenancewi.com). Especially in the early weeks of fall, mowing leaves can save hours of labor while naturally fertilizing lawns.
“You can usually mulch leaves with a lawnmower up until the last big drop,” Ruedt said. “Because of its much smaller size, mulched leaf material breaks down rapidly and adds nutrients to the soil. With winter right around the corner, grass can certainly use the extra nourishment.”
Homeowners can mow leaves as long as grass is visible afterward beneath the cut-up material, Ruedt said. The green indicates that grass won’t be “suffocated”
Mulched leaves can also be spread onto planting beds up to a half-inch deep as fertilizer.
“The organic matter can be tilled into a garden or put into a perennial bed, where it will help the perennials survive the winter,” Ruedt said.
Mowed leaves might need to be raked late in the season, when trees finally empty their branches, or on heavily-wooded lots with lots of volume. Even then, Ruedt said, the mulched material will require less than half as many bags to collect as whole leaves.
Homeowners wanting to dispose of leaves can take them to a recycling center, hire a landscaping professional for removal, or compost the material, Ruedt said.
Composting requires regular turning of the material to aerate it and accelerate decomposition. Serious composting usually is done in an area that is staked-off and fenced with chicken-wire mesh, Ruedt said. Homeowners composting on a small scale can use a compost bin that is easily rotated.
Nature disposes of leaves on its own. Mowing kick-starts the process of natural removal, Ruedt said.
“No one rakes leaves in the woods. Yet every spring all the leaves are gone,” he said.
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Founded in 1999, Grounds Maintenance Services offers a full range of landscaping and yard maintenance services, plus winter snow management, holiday lighting setup and in-home Christmas tree delivery. Its professional staff prides itself on helping homeowners grow their dreams, one yard at a time.