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(Mother Nature Network)   The science behind why you shouldn't worry about raking the leaves in your yard and instead stay inside watching football all day   (mnn.com) divider line 44
    More: Cool, mulch, football, composts  
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8735 clicks; posted to Main » on 28 Nov 2013 at 9:40 AM (51 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-11-28 09:13:18 AM  
I live in an area that is very windy in the winter, so I never need to rake all the leaves that fall from our trees. I have no idea where they go...somewhere there is a guy whose entire house must be mulched.
 
2013-11-28 09:13:38 AM  
It didn't say not to worry about them, you lazy bum, it says to mulch them.
 
2013-11-28 09:46:47 AM  
Just how are you supposed to stuff them into bags to mulch if you don't rake them first?
 
2013-11-28 09:46:47 AM  
How about because it's f*cking freezing outside? That's a pretty good reason too.
 
2013-11-28 09:51:47 AM  
Mr. MMM mows the leaves. Just as he mows the weeds. Our yard had like 2 patches of grass -- 2 totally different types of grasses -- and the rest is clover and stuff. We had a perfect lawn and then we had kids and pets and a life.
 
2013-11-28 09:52:02 AM  

Skyfrog: Just how are you supposed to stuff them into bags to mulch if you don't rake them first?


Use a vacuum muncher. My leaf blower has an attachment that allows me to vacuum the leaves, much them and bag them. Since the leaves are mostly oak, I put them on my blueberry beds.
 
2013-11-28 09:52:52 AM  

Skyfrog: Just how are you supposed to stuff them into bags to mulch if you don't rake them first?



You don't.  You use a mulching mower.  Or do what I do and just let 'em be.  I sweep and rake them off the driveway then spread them out on the lawn. Our leaves are relatively small and decompose quickly.
 
2013-11-28 09:56:24 AM  
I rationalize being lazy, in this instance, by pointing out that the invertebrate diversity is better off when the leaves are left whole on the lavn, and the grass isn't cut short.

/Makes more sense than movember
 
2013-11-28 09:57:47 AM  
I've always mulched them. Besides the other benefits, it's just easier. Plus in the fall I lower my mower to keep the grass very short so the leaves will blow into my neighbors yard. My other neighbors farking honey locust on the other hand needs to die. I have an inch of those farking seed pods on my driveway.

/what's a good way to poison a tree
//kidding
///not really
 
2013-11-28 09:58:11 AM  

Arkanaut: How about because it's f*cking freezing outside? That's a pretty good reason too.


Then why make a BBQ in the middle of the freakin' cold? I've seen it.
 
2013-11-28 10:00:01 AM  
Our grumpy 70 year old "GET OFF MY LAWN" neighbor must be real pissed at us.  We never rake our leaves, the wind sweeps all of the leaves into his yard.....  and he must work on his lawn every day.  Blowing the leaves one day, sucking up the leaves that lean up against his house the next.  I'm surprised he hasn't had a coronary yet.
 
2013-11-28 10:00:12 AM  
I've done this for years.  My neighbor the lawn Nazi hates me. He hires a crew to come in 2 or 3 times each fall to rake and remove leaves, then he spends hours with his leaf blower shooting any stragglers into my yard.  I just raise the blade on the mower half an inch and grind them up.

Both lawns are covered in snow now so he can't grind his teeth over the leaf bits in my lawn anymore.
 
2013-11-28 10:06:09 AM  

basemetal: It didn't say not to worry about them, you lazy bum, it says to mulch them.


Well, I'm already not raking them, so I am halfway there.
 
2013-11-28 10:10:55 AM  
How am I supposed to rake my leaves when they're under a foot of snow?
 
2013-11-28 10:12:01 AM  

 you may need to add the bag attachment or even rake them.

So instead of raking them I may need to rake them, got it.

/haven't seen anyone rake leaves in ten years
 
2013-11-28 10:13:22 AM  
The added benefit is that you put gas stabilizer in your tank while you're mulching the leaves and that preps your mower for the winter and will start right up in the spring.  Been doing this for 17 years now.

/prefer onion suspenders to an onion belt
 
2013-11-28 10:21:24 AM  
As Grandpa used to say, "Give your laziest man the hardest job, and he'll find the easiest way to do it."  Been on the mulching mower program for years.  Don't add fertilizer, either

/a lawn doesn't need to look like a farkin' golf course, IMHO
 
2013-11-28 10:23:34 AM  
 We have 6 types of trees which drop leaves in succession over the course of the entire fall, so it is an endless battle.   (Locust, red maple, sugar maple, red oak, white oak, and cottonwood.)  Considering that the woods are approximately 100 years old, it is a pretty good amount of biodiversity.  I just started paying a guy to take care of the yard this year and it has been one of the best investments I have ever made.  My spine thanks me... verbally.
 
2013-11-28 10:29:17 AM  
It is pretty wasteful to bag up leaves as trash (although my city and I hope most cities mulch them) and then fertilize your lawn in the spring. It would be better to fertilize your lawn with mulched leaves in the fall. We don't have a lot of huge trees so we mow the leaves. I also ran about my yard throwing rabbit poo everywhere about a month ago.

On the other hand, I do know some people with so many huge trees in their yard that if they mulched/mowed all of the leaves the leaves would be this thick layer- when they get wet they kind of mat together and it can make huge muddy dead spots in your yard. If you have that many leaves you can just stick the bag on your mower and mulch them into it- and then put them where you need extra mulch like around trees, bushes, on your garden.

I don't mulch weeds because I'm paranoid. There aren't a ton so sometimes I put them in the trash, sometimes I burn them.
 
2013-11-28 10:31:13 AM  
Now I have to mow?
 
2013-11-28 10:47:18 AM  

linemanbear: Our grumpy 70 year old "GET OFF MY LAWN" neighbor must be real pissed at us.  We never rake our leaves, the wind sweeps all of the leaves into his yard.....  and he must work on his lawn every day.  Blowing the leaves one day, sucking up the leaves that lean up against his house the next.  I'm surprised he hasn't had a coronary yet.


Many older people DO seem to have an obsession with having a perfect lawn ( must be a 1950's thing). My parents have certainly irritated some of their neighbors by having an extensive (& well-maintained) garden in their front yard instead....

/ no HOA, no breaking of city ordinances, so the neighbors can't do anything....
 
2013-11-28 10:47:22 AM  

spidermilk: It is pretty wasteful to bag up leaves as trash (although my city and I hope most cities mulch them) and then fertilize your lawn in the spring. It would be better to fertilize your lawn with mulched leaves in the fall. We don't have a lot of huge trees so we mow the leaves. I also ran about my yard throwing rabbit poo everywhere about a month ago.

On the other hand, I do know some people with so many huge trees in their yard that if they mulched/mowed all of the leaves the leaves would be this thick layer- when they get wet they kind of mat together and it can make huge muddy dead spots in your yard. If you have that many leaves you can just stick the bag on your mower and mulch them into it- and then put them where you need extra mulch like around trees, bushes, on your garden.

I don't mulch weeds because I'm paranoid. There aren't a ton so sometimes I put them in the trash, sometimes I burn them.


Be careful not to burn poison ivy, oak, sumac.  The smoke contains the same chemical which causes the allergic reaction on your skin. Imagine getting that rash in your lungs...  We had a father and son in our town nearly die a few years ago because they didn't know that the hairy vines on the logs they were burning were actually poison ivy.

Also, be somewhat careful with leaf mulching because it can change the pH of the ground, which maycause growth problems with certain species of plants (particularly grasses).  There are relatively easy fixes for this kind of problem, but why give yourself more work to do at a later date?

If you are really into using leaves as mulch, consider getting a composting barrel and putting other stuff in there like food waste and coffee grounds as well.
 
2013-11-28 10:47:28 AM  
I'll mow when it warms back up in December, Probably wash my car in the driveway, too.
 
2013-11-28 10:49:45 AM  
I always just use my lawn mower and mulch them.  Unfortunately it decided to snow before I got out there.  Now I have to wait until it melts and warms up some to do my usual end of fall mowing.  Might not happen until May...
 
2013-11-28 10:49:46 AM  

abhorrent1: I've always mulched them. Besides the other benefits, it's just easier. Plus in the fall I lower my mower to keep the grass very short so the leaves will blow into my neighbors yard. My other neighbors farking honey locust on the other hand needs to die. I have an inch of those farking seed pods on my driveway.

/what's a good way to poison a tree
//kidding
///not really


A copper nail down by the base.

/I didn't say that
 
2013-11-28 10:50:59 AM  
It's the fall. They're supposed to be down there. Look good, too.
 
2013-11-28 10:54:14 AM  

tetsoushima: spidermilk: It is pretty wasteful to bag up leaves as trash (although my city and I hope most cities mulch them) and then fertilize your lawn in the spring. It would be better to fertilize your lawn with mulched leaves in the fall. We don't have a lot of huge trees so we mow the leaves. I also ran about my yard throwing rabbit poo everywhere about a month ago.

On the other hand, I do know some people with so many huge trees in their yard that if they mulched/mowed all of the leaves the leaves would be this thick layer- when they get wet they kind of mat together and it can make huge muddy dead spots in your yard. If you have that many leaves you can just stick the bag on your mower and mulch them into it- and then put them where you need extra mulch like around trees, bushes, on your garden.

I don't mulch weeds because I'm paranoid. There aren't a ton so sometimes I put them in the trash, sometimes I burn them.

Be careful not to burn poison ivy, oak, sumac.  The smoke contains the same chemical which causes the allergic reaction on your skin. Imagine getting that rash in your lungs...  We had a father and son in our town nearly die a few years ago because they didn't know that the hairy vines on the logs they were burning were actually poison ivy.

Also, be somewhat careful with leaf mulching because it can change the pH of the ground, which maycause growth problems with certain species of plants (particularly grasses).  There are relatively easy fixes for this kind of problem, but why give yourself more work to do at a later date?

If you are really into using leaves as mulch, consider getting a composting barrel and putting other stuff in there like food waste and coffee grounds as well.


I'd really like to start a compost barrel but I'm actually not sure I have enough leaves/paper/etc. We have a small yard and only 2 trees that drop leaves. Also, thanks for the warning about poison ivy/oak/sumac- but the small yard that is free of those. Crazy though because I have never heard of someone dying from the smoke/fumes! I grew up in the country and lucky for me I don't react to poison ivy/oak/sumac- spent every summer (and I still do) wandering around barefoot or wearing shorts in the woods. I know what poison ivy looks like but I don't bother to avoid it.
 
2013-11-28 11:03:22 AM  

spidermilk: I'd really like to start a compost barrel but I'm actually not sure I have enough leaves/paper/etc. We have a small yard and only 2 trees that drop leaves. Also, thanks for the warning about poison ivy/oak/sumac- but the small yard that is free of those. Crazy though because I have never heard of someone dying from the smoke/fumes! I grew up in the country and lucky for me I don't react to poison ivy/oak/sumac- spent every summer (and I still do) wandering around barefoot or wearing shorts in the woods. I know what poison ivy looks like but I don't bother to avoid it.


The compost barrel needn't be an oil drum.  You can get away with composting in small quantities which can yield some really great potting soil for flowers and herbs on your windowsill.  Here's a helpful link:   http://www.composters.net/composting-guide.php

You're excessively lucky about not having a reaction to poisonous plants.  I have spent entire weeks incapacitated because my fingers and toes were covered with rashes.  You haven't experience true agony until you have a poison ivy rash between your phalanges.
 
2013-11-28 11:03:35 AM  

abhorrent1: I've always mulched them. Besides the other benefits, it's just easier. Plus in the fall I lower my mower to keep the grass very short so the leaves will blow into my neighbors yard. My other neighbors farking honey locust on the other hand needs to die. I have an inch of those farking seed pods on my driveway.

/what's a good way to poison a tree
//kidding
///not really


Gird the tree - take a sharp utility blade and cut an unbroken line around the diameter of the trunk.  Do it close to the ground so it's less noticeable (or do it up high where it's well above eye level).  You'll sever the tree's vascular system which is in between the bark and the old growth, so it will be unable to move nutrients down to the roots (or up from the roots depending on the season).  It'll take a few years for the tree to die, but it will die.  If you really want to be sure, do it in two locations, because trees can sometimes repair small cuts.

This was the frontier method of clearing forests - gird trees, come back in a few years and harvest the lumber for cabins and firewood.  They did it in a noticeable way, however, so they would know which trees were already done.
 
2013-11-28 11:16:39 AM  

Unemployedingreenland: Gird the tree - take a sharp utility blade and cut an unbroken line around the diameter of the trunk. Do it close to the ground so it's less noticeable (or do it up high where it's well above eye level). You'll sever the tree's vascular system which is in between the bark and the old growth, so it will be unable to move nutrients down to the roots (or up from the roots depending on the season). It'll take a few years for the tree to die, but it will die. If you really want to be sure, do it in two locations, because trees can sometimes repair small cuts.

This was the frontier method of clearing forests - gird trees, come back in a few years and harvest the lumber for cabins and firewood. They did it in a noticeable way, however, so they would know which trees were already done.


I've heard of that but I've always heard it referred to as "Ringing".  Figured it would be too obvious if he cared enough to look into it. Though I'm 99.9% sure he wouldn't give a fark.
 
2013-11-28 11:19:16 AM  
Mowed the leaves in October  3 times a week.
No raking. No bagging.
 
2013-11-28 11:36:25 AM  
Well, since we're sharing here...

I have a very large yard by suburban standards.  A very large, tree filled yard that is 2 houses from the forest known as the Cleveland Metroparks.  It is a wonderful place in the summer - the social gathering point for many friends and relatives during that time of year.  Alas, I am an admitted leaf Nazi.

Left untouched (such as the empty house on our street), the pile of maple leaves would be 4-8 inches deep until snow turned them into a permafrost layer until spring.  Simply mulching them would result in a similar, albeit thinner, layer.  The amount of leaves is too overwhelming for simply using a bagging lawnmower, even the riding variety.  The bag/hopper would need to be dumped constantly.  Therefore, fall leaf cleaning is the price we pay for having a big park all summer long.

It is a war.  I lose some battles, but I win the war.  I am armed.  A gas leaf blower, a large tarp, and a riding mower (before it's too muddy back there) keep me ahead of the tree-dwelling simpletons.  I have allies.  Our city has curbside leaf removal (no bags) and the neighbor and I have created a compost pile (current dimensions: 45 feet long, 8 feet wide, 4 feet tall - all leaves).

I live by one driving thought on the matter: The only thing worse than cleaning leaves in the fall is cleaning leaves in the spring.

/Happy Thanksgiving
//CSB
 
2013-11-28 11:53:13 AM  

Earl Green: It is a war. I lose some battles, but I win the war. I am armed. A gas leaf blower, a large tarp, and a riding mower (before it's too muddy back there) keep me ahead of the tree-dwelling simpletons. I have allies.


This. We have 4 junk silver maples, a Japanese maple, and a locust in the "middle" back yard. I use a little trailer instead of a tarp. We also have a nice compost pile at the edge of the escarpment, with 14 years' worth of leaf removal as material.

/Whoever invented the leaf blower: I and my back salute you.
 
2013-11-28 11:54:13 AM  

biglot: It's the fall. They're supposed to be down there. Look good, too.


I always assume people raking leaves have OCD.

And it's not like plants need our help to decompose.
 
2013-11-28 11:54:41 AM  
our village has curbside pick up my yard is relatively small ( less than a acre ) just blow the major amount of leaves on a tarp and drag it to the curb it took me a couple of hours without a leaf blower. The rest I will mulch, thanks to this forum I won't feel guilty. Happy Holidays!
 
2013-11-28 12:02:36 PM  

mr_a: I live in an area that is very windy in the winter, so I never need to rake all the leaves that fall from our trees. I have no idea where they go...somewhere there is a guy whose entire house must be mulched.


I love how there's still magic in this world.
 
2013-11-28 12:36:29 PM  
My house (my mom's house) is in the middle of the woods; trees overhead everywhere and the leaves really pile up. I'll rake everything 3-5 times throughout October and November but it's still always covered, so I end up mowing a layer of leaves anyways. if I didn't rake it would be a three foot deep layer every year; instead I make big leaf piles for the boys to play in, then dump the leaves onto any poison ivy patches that crop up in the woods to smother them.
 
2013-11-28 01:21:34 PM  

natazha: Skyfrog: Just how are you supposed to stuff them into bags to mulch if you don't rake them first?

Use a vacuum muncher. My leaf blower has an attachment that allows me to vacuum the leaves, much them and bag them. Since the leaves are mostly oak, I put them on my blueberry beds.


THIS.. bought it last year, my problem was that it rained non stop for the longest time, so after a few days of sunnier weather, I fought for a couple of hours to get it done, but several bags went into the flower beds and such. I found that it did end up helping with the weeds and looked pretty darn better overall to have the mulch instead of out of control flower beds.

This year... someone in the house decides to fill those pumpkin plastic bags for Halloween with them and that resulted to them being thrown out... I wasn't impressed.
 
2013-11-28 01:23:34 PM  
I don't exactly need a scientist to explain this in my neighborhood.
See...  The Twp. is supposed to come and gather the leaves off the curb once everyone in the neighborhood rakes them off their lawns.  We've done it 3 times now.  The Twp. never picked them up.  So everyone's yard looks like they never did a bit of work.

Very frustrating and annoying.
 
2013-11-28 01:36:05 PM  

abhorrent1: I've always mulched them. Besides the other benefits, it's just easier. Plus in the fall I lower my mower to keep the grass very short so the leaves will blow into my neighbors yard. My other neighbors farking honey locust on the other hand needs to die. I have an inch of those farking seed pods on my driveway.

/what's a good way to poison a tree
//kidding
///not really


You can't kill a honey locust.  They're the Wolverine of trees.
 
2013-11-28 01:44:10 PM  
Just run them over with a mulching mower and call it a day, it's fall and your grass is about dead anyway, no point in worrying about what it looks like.
 
2013-11-28 02:07:01 PM  

Fish in a Barrel: abhorrent1: I've always mulched them. Besides the other benefits, it's just easier. Plus in the fall I lower my mower to keep the grass very short so the leaves will blow into my neighbors yard. My other neighbors farking honey locust on the other hand needs to die. I have an inch of those farking seed pods on my driveway.

/what's a good way to poison a tree
//kidding
///not really

You can't kill a honey locust.  They're the Wolverine of trees.


Honey locust don't care. Honey locust don't give a shiat.
 
2013-11-28 05:20:34 PM  
As a kid I had to rake almost 4 acres of leaves every year.........I knew it was unnecessary but my dad would have none of that sciencey stuff in his churchy household.
 
2013-11-28 10:33:38 PM  
I mulch my leaves.  This past weekend I went out to do it for the last time.  I live in Michigan and it was sunny when I started but snowing heavily halfway through.  My neighbors drove by and laughed at me and took pictures.  I flipped them off and told them their lawns sucked and this was my secret ingredient to my awesome lawn.

And the fact I'm the only one with in-ground sprinklers on my street.

/People with unkept lawns likely have bad personal hygiene.
 
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