Leave the leaves: Kansas City experts say stop raking your leaves and mulch them instead

Posted at 3:56 PM, Nov 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-04 17:59:53-04

Fall is usually a time to put away the mower and pull out the rake. But not so fast, said Johnson County K-State Extension horticultural expert Dennis Patton.

"Leaves are one of those bugaboos every fall. They either love them or they hate them," he explained.
That's why he said this year, you may want to leave the leaves.

"Mulch mowing is nothing more than what the name implies - using your lawnmower to mow, shred the leaves, chop them up, so they filter back down into the surface of the turf where they naturally break down and compost and then recycle back into the soil," he said.

And it's been researched. Two decades ago, Michigan State University Extension evaluated the effects of leaf mulching and discovered that mulching was more beneficial than removing leaves when in comes to levels of pH, organic matter, nitrogen and carbon. 

"It's the time savings and the energy savings of not having to haul those leaves away," said Patton. "In Johnson County, they have to be separated from the trash so that's another expense -- more time, more energy, more waste. If we can keep this debris at home, it just takes it out of the trash stream so it really is more green and environmentally friendly."

One tip - don't let the leaves pile up so they are several inches deep. Instead, mow every few weeks so they can decompose.



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