Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Turf - Mulching Leaves Recycles Nutrients and Does Not Impact Turf

Lawn maintenance companies often spend many hours collecting and disposing of leaves at sites. This is not necessary in many cases as a mulching lawnmower can be used to keep leaves in the lawn and recycle nutrients. The following are some points to consider:
  • Consider mulching leaves into the turfgrass canopy using a mulching mower. This could be part of a "green" or "ecofriendly" lawn care practice and can be sold as a specific service as an alternative to leaf removal and disposal.
  • A Purdue University research report entitled “Leaf Mulching Effects on Turf Performance” showed that up to 4000 lbs of maple leaves per acre could be mulched with no negative effects on turf quality, color, thatch accumulation, soil pH change, weed populations or disease. However, mulching leaves did not substitute for proper fertilization practices.
  • Unfortunately, mulching is not effective on pine needles because of their size, shape, and
    composition. Pine needles are highly resistant to microbial breakdown, lending to its popularity as a landscape mulch.
  • Mulching leaves directly into the turf canopy has proven to be a cost (and time) effective means of leaf disposal with little to no impact on turf performance. Most importantly of all, it keeps leaves out of the landfills and is a sustainable or ecofriendly lawn care practice.

So, as part of a ecofriendly or sustainable lawn care program, consider adding leaf mulching as a service.

Information taken in part from "Lawn Leaf Management: “Leave” Them Alone" by Mike Goatley, Extension Turfgrass Specialist, Virginia Tech

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