Is Mulching Leaves Good (or Bad) For Your Lawn

Mulching your leaves is not only good for your lawn, but it can also save you time and money. So instead of bagging leaves & send them to a landfill, mulch them instead!

In early fall when leaf drop is slow, simply mow the leaves into your lawn. As leaf drop increases or if you have a pile-up of leaves, increase the mowing height as high as it can go.

Then continue to mow over the leaves on a weekly basis. It is as simple as that.

Just like grass clippings, tree leaves have nutrients that will break down over time by the micro-organisms in your soil and will feed your grass.

Mulching your leaves is also good for the environment. Did you know that yard waste accounts for nearly 12% of the trash collected in the United States? Composting yard litter like leaves helps reduce the amount of methane emitted from landfills and lowers our collective carbon footprint.

Benefits Of Mulching Leaves

colorful leaves on green lawn

Here are 7 more reasons to consider mulching your leaves instead of bagging them for the garbage collectors.

  1. Feeds Your Lawn. The leaf mulch provides free organic matter and the important essential nutrients that feed your grass.
  2. Help Soil Retain Moisture. This mulching process helps the soil to hold more moisture and prevents drought stress in your lawn. It also improves the health of your trees.
  3. Reduce Competition from Weeds. Mulching helps keep weeds down which reduces competition for nutrients, water, and sunlight.
  4. Eliminate Crabgrass & Dandelions. Research shows that you can eliminate crabgrass & dandelions in your lawn by mulching your tree leaves for 3 years or longer.
  5. Require Fewer Amendments. Lawns that receive nutrients from mulched leaves require less fertilizer over time.
  6. Reduce Landfill Waste. Landscapers routinely bag yard waste and transport it to the landfill. We can drastically reduce the amount of compostable materials sent to landfills by simply recycling in our own backyard through mulching.
  7. Saves Time and Effort. Although you will be essentially mowing the lawn a few times in one session, this is much less work than bagging up all the leaves & hauling them away to the landfill.

How to Mulch Leaves With Your Lawn Mower

Before you get started, make sure the lawn is relatively dry. The leaves will crumble must easier when they are dry.

Equipment Needed To Get Started

  • Lawn Mower. Mulching mowers are excellent for chopping up leaves and creating mulch that will more easily decompose in your lawn. Side mowers do an average job but may require a little more work.
  • Rake. You may also need a rake to pull leaves away from the edges of your lawn or from your garden bed.
  • Safety Goggles. You should always wear safety goggles when mowing the lawn to prevent small pieces of leaves, twigs, or even rock from injuring your eyes. . They are even more important during the mulching process since the pieces will be even smaller.
  • Garden Gloves. Protect your hands with a good set of gloves.

5 Steps To Mulch Leaves Into Your Lawn

The process of mulching leaves with your lawnmower is very straightforward.

Step 1: Set your mower to the highest setting possible for better leaf shredding.
Step 2: The initial mow will pull the leaves up out of the grass.
Step 3: Rake or blow leaves from the corners of your property into the center.
Step 4: Go over the leaves a second or third time until you have confetti-sized pieces (approximately the size of dimes or quarters).
Step 5: Relax and let mother nature do the rest.

mowing leaves into lawn - taking a second pass

Frequently Asked Questions

Will mulching leaves change the pH of your lawn?

No – A University study tested the effect of adding 6 inches of leaves to the lawn every week. The study concluded that when the leaves broke down, they did not change the ph of the soil.

What if you have too many trees and leaves?

If you have a lot of trees on your property, your best bet is to mow more frequently. So you are continuously adding leaf mulch into your lawn.

Mow weekly – even if your grass doesn’t need it. This will reduce the number of leaves that pile up into your grass. When you mow more frequently, the microbes in the soil will flourish and reproduce. This helps your lawn process the leaves faster.

Is it OK to leave shredded leaves on top of your grass?

Yes. After mowing you may still see leaves on top of your lawn. This is fine. Within a few days, the shredded leaves will disappear into your lawn and will become unnoticeable.

Can I mulch bagged leaves for the garden?

Bagging leaves for mulching in your garden beds is another good practice to improve your soil. The extra layer of protection they provide will reduce weed germination and insulate the plants and soil during the winter months.

However, don’t place full bags of leaves in your garden without mulching them first. This will block water and air circulation from reaching your soil and cause it to stay wet. Clumps of wet leaves on top of the soil creates an environment that will allow diseases to grow within your perennial beds.

bright green lawn with tree in center

Summary

Not only does mulching leaves help your lawn look better, but it will also allow the grass to do better, too. In the short term, you will save time and money, while enriching your soil and the overall health of your lawn.

Over time, you will naturally reduce problem weeds like crabgrass and dandelions. So why not give it a try this year?