Mulch Leaves – Don’t Rake

Shedding brown leaves

Q: I am tired of raking! Is there any reason I can’t shred lawn leaves with my mower and not rake them into piles for removal?

A: There are two good reasons to let your mower do the work. One experiment in Michigan found that mulched leaves suppressed dandelions in a lawn by 84 percent. A study in Pennsylvania found that mulched leaves had no effect on turf visual quality, no effect on turf growth and no effect on thatch depth. As long as you don’t allow mats of wet leaves to accumulate on the grass, you can kiss your rake goodbye.

Leaf Mulch as Weed Control

Effects of Leaving Mulched Leaves on a Lawn

UGA Turf expert Clint Waltz comments on the mulched leaves study: I certainly think this is research we can extrapolate information from but the only turfgrass species mentioned was ryegrass, we don’t have many ryegrass lawns in Georgia. For us this is most applicable to tall fescue. How does this translate to grasses that are known to be more thatch producing, like bermudagrass and zoysiagrass? Or more sensitive to pH (e.g. centipedegrass)? I’m a proponent of mulching leaves into a lawn or collecting them, via raking or blowing, and using them as mulch in ornamental beds as opposed to discarding them in a landfill. However, there are some idiosyncrasies that need to be accounted for in our area.

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