Free Nutrients for Your Lawn & Landscape – Would You Throw That Away?
1. Is there an alternative to the annual chore of raking and bagging leaves?
Because fallen leaves are seen as a waste product – something to be thrown away – the vast majority of our citizens spend many hours each fall raking, blowing, bagging, and hauling leaves to the curb for disposal. But that “Leaves are a waste” concept is truly backward; there is value in those fallen leaves! Mother Nature does not treat fallen leaves as a waste. In a forest, leaves decompose and become nutrients for the trees from which they came.
Understandably, most citizens desire to have a clean & green property, therefore they don’t want to wait for Mother Nature’s relatively slow process of turning fallen leaves into nutrients and topsoil. There is, however, a quick, easy, and environmentally friendly way to feed both the lawn and trees in your landscape with those fallen leaves – It’s called Mulch-Mowing.
A Mulch-Mower essentially becomes a “Food-Processor” for your landscape by using a modified blade and enclosed deck to slice grass clippings and dried leaves several times before depositing them back into the turfgrass. Weekly Mulch-Mowing of leaves is normally as quick & easy as regular grass mowing, with heavier leaf accumulations requiring only a second or third mowing pass. It’s really amazing to see all those leaves seemingly disappear as the mower creates “Mulch” from those dried leaves and grass clipping, then deposits that mulch into the turfgrass, all while freshly mowing your lawn to the ideal 3-3½” uniform height.
2. What if you don't have a mulching mower? Is it possible to adapt a conventional mower?
While a Mulch-Mower is best, virtually any rotary mower will chop leaves enough so that they will work their way into turfgrass mown at 3” or higher. As these chopped leaves eventually settle onto the soil surface, microbial activity increases to decompose and incorporate this new Organic Matter into the topsoil. Over time, that increased organic matter content will reduce both water & fertilizer requirements of the turfgrass – which helps Mother Nature keep your lawn lush, green & healthy.
Prices for a 21” homeowner style Mulch-Mower begin at $250 and are available for purchase from most area retailers offering lawn & garden products. If, however, you are not ready for a new mower, then consider retrofitting your current rotary mower with a “Mulching Blade” – this cost could be as little as $15.00! A small investment in mowing equipment could save many hours of hard work while being a friend to the environment this autumn.
3. What are other benefits to mulch mowing?
Obviously, Mulch-Mowing eliminates many hours of back-breaking work raking, bagging, and hauling leaves to the alleys. In addition, Citizens who choose to Mulch-Mow their leaves are also helping to address two quality of life issues:
1. Fewer leaves in the street mean cleaner, safer, & more aesthetically pleasing streets:
2. Fewer leaves in the street mean better environmental stewardship:
- Leaf piles may become fire hazards if a vehicle’s exhaust or a careless cigarette comes into contact with dry leaves.
- Leaf piles may become slippery when wet, creating potential hazards for pedestrians.
- Leaf piles may become dangerous unseen obstacles if City workers have to work around them.
- Leaf piles may clog the City's storm drain system causing flooded streets & potentially flooded properties.
- Leaf piles may potentially eutrophy Zephyrhills' creeks, streams and rivers when autumn rains wash leaves and/or their phosphorus leachate into the City's storm water system.