Fall Leaves: Stop Raking and Start Mulching
It’s that time of year again, the temperatures are dropping and the foliage is falling off the trees. If your lawn is like most lawns in North Florida and has a mix of deciduous trees like elm, sweetgum, maple, and laurel oaks, you are likely to have a ton of extra leaves on the ground over the next month or two.
Time to grab the rake and leaf bags, right? Not so fast.
Those leaves make great mulch and compost and many experts will tell you that leaving them is not only good for your lawn but good for the environment as well.
Here are a few reasons to consider leaving the leaves this year.
Leaf Waste Takes up A Lot of Space in Landfills
While there are some excellent organizations out there that specialize in picking up and recycling green waste, not all yard waste makes it to that point.
According to the EPA, over 10 million tons of green waste goes to landfills each year. This accounts for almost 1/12th of all waste in landfills!
Leaving the Leaves Saves You Time and Money
Just like all mulches, leaf mulch provides a ton of benefits to your yard or garden.
Leaving the leaves on your lawn or gathering and spreading them selectively can help:
- reduce evaporation
- suppress weeds
- insulate root systems from the cold
- reduce soil erosion
- even make your landscaping appear more attractive
Certain leaves even add nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus (NPK) to your soil. This saves you from having to purchase and apply additional fertilizers.
The Environment Will Thank You
Many birds and insects rely on leaf litter for their homes and development. When you rake up leaves you are removing potential habitats for butterflies and songbirds.
In addition to the wildlife, many of the trees and bushes in your yard love the excess nutrients provided by leaf mulch as it breaks down. Keep them happy by leaving the leaves!
Tips for Using Fallen Leaves in Your Landscape and Garden
So, what should you do with the abundance of leaves you’ll be coming into over the next few months? Here are a few ideas:
- Let leaves stay where they fall and run them over with a mower, effectively mulching them and helping them to break down faster.
- Rake up leaves and use them as mulch in garden beds. If you have a shredder, it helps to shred them first but they will be just fine if you don’t.
- Rake them into a pile and leave it. They will decompose over time and the resulting compound (commonly called leaf mold) can be used to amend the soil.
- Combine fallen leaves or “brown material” with non-meat food scraps, lawn clippings, and other “green material”, keep moist, turn occasionally and you’ll have nutrient-rich compost ready for your garden in spring.
Consider Griffis for Everything Else
Leaves make great mulch and compost but, if you need extra mulch to fill in the gaps or cover additional spots in your landscape, contact Griffis Lumber.
Griffis has a variety of premium landscape mulch products and will be glad to help with your project this autumn.