ByMadeleine Somerville

Oct 27, 2014

Great news for environmentalists and lazy homeowners alike – no longer must you sacrifice a whole weekend of beautiful weather (perhaps the last before winter sets in) doing yard work.

In fact there are three reasons that not raking leaves can benefit you, your lawn, and the environment, too.

How? By mulching leaves, rather than painstakingly raking and bagging every last one. Mulching doesn’t require any special equipment, just a regular lawn mower with the bag removed. It takes a fraction of the time that raking would, with the added benefit of replacing beneficial nutrients back into your lawn to nourish it for next spring.

The ideal time to start mulching those leaves is while you can still see some grass through the leaf covering – put it off too long and you may end up with mulch that covers your lawn rather than blending into it. Too much mulch means blocked sunlight, and dead grass, but doing smaller batches every week or so allows the leaves to fall between the blades of grass and onto the soil below.

(If you have a backyard compost bin, it’s a great idea to gather a bag or two of leaves before you begin mulching. Keep the bags in a dry place like a garage, and gradually add them to your bin throughout the winter to balance out the food waste.)

To mulch, adjust your mower to medium/high setting, and start taking slow passes across the lawn just like you would mow grass. The mower blades finely chop the leaves, and spray them back onto the lawn. I like to do a final pass on a low setting to tidy things up a bit, but it’s not strictly necessary.

The end result is a lawn covered with a fine smattering of shredded leaves – it’s not immaculate, but neither is a raked lawn where one strong breeze blasts you right back to square one.

Perhaps the best part – other than saving you time and all those plastic yard waste bags, too – is that taking care of fall leaves by mulching will pay off again come spring.

According to Mother Nature Network, “Decomposing leaves and grass cover the soil between the individual grass plants where weeds can germinate. MSU studies found that homeowners can attain a nearly 100 percent decrease in dandelions and crabgrass after mulching fall leaves for just three years.”

There you have it. Go ahead and put away that rake, relish the bewildered looks from your neighbors, and free up your weekends for more worthwhile pursuits.

Don’t you just love fall?

Feature image courtesy of Don LaVange

By Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.