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What is the Best Way to Manage Leaves?

Managing Leaves

1. Reuse leaves by shredding them into the lawn when mowing.

Simply remove the bag from your mower and let the shredded grass clippings and leaves fertilize your soil. Mulching takes less time than bagging, because you don't have to stop to empty the bag. If too many leaves are covering the grass take an extra trip over the lawn with the mower to chop them smaller and disperse them more evenly. Clumps may form and when left on the surface of the turfgrass can damage the plant underneath. A solution is to remove the excess leaves or use mulching mowers which cut grass clippings and leaves into tiny pieces. Smaller pieces fall faster down to the ground surface and are faster to decompose. Check here for more information.

Lawn Mower

2. The excess leaves can be collected, shredded (if shredder available) and used to prepare compost or left to turn into leaf mold.

Shredding leaves:

•increases the surface area, giving microbes many more places to work

•prevents the leaves from packing together into layers that won't let water or air penetrate

•dramatically reduces their volume   

Leaf shredding equipment options:

•Lawn Mower: Mow over leaves while on the ground with the lawn mower and either pick them up with the bag attachment or rake up after shredding. 

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•String Trimmer: Rake up leaves and put them in a garbage can. Crank up your string trimmer and use it to shred the leaves while in the can. 

Leaf Shredder

•Leaf Blower: Use the shred and vacuum feature on certain leaf blowers. 

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•Shredder: Run leaves through a commercial shredder. 

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How to Use Shredded Leaves:
•Insulate Tender Plants: Up to 6-inch blanket of leaves protects tender plants from winter wind and cold. Check here for more information. 

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•Boost Your Compost Pile: Carbon-rich leaves balance high-nitrogen compost ingredients such as fresh grass clippings and kitchen scraps.

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•Improve Your Soil: Mix shredded leaves right into your garden. Next spring, your soil will be teeming with earthworms and other beneficial organisms.

•Make "Leaf Mold": Simply rake the leaves into a big pile. If you shred them, they will decompose faster. Leaf mold is high in calcium and magnesium and retains three to five times its weight in water—rivaling peat moss. Check here for more information.

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Think Before You Shred!

•Be careful with some kinds of leaves. Walnut leaves contain substances that inhibit plant growth. It's best to compost these leaves before using them in your garden.

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