Vail Landscape Logic: Want to stop raking leaves? |

Vail Landscape Logic: Want to stop raking leaves?

Special to the Daily
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It might be a little late for this season, as the valley is draped in a layer of snow, but file this one away for next fall: Your days of raking and bagging leaves are over.

It’s OK to run over the leaves that have fallen on your lawn with a mulching lawnmower. Seriously. The horticulturists at Colorado State University say so — and they site the research by fellow plant geeks at Michigan State University that backs them up. If you have been swayed by talk that mulching leaves on top of your lawn with a mulching lawnmower creates more thatch, then you’ve been led astray by urban myth.

And there’s more good news. Mulched leaves add nutrients and also help retain soil moisture. In addition, mulching fallen leaves into your lawn can actually decrease weeds in the turf — and three straight years of doing so can almost eliminate dandelions and crabgrass. Thanks again, Michigan researchers!

Can there be too many leaves to mow and mulch?

If leaves are mowed frequently enough, said CSU turf expert Tony Koski, Ph.D., then it’s rare that there will be too many mulched leaves. But if after mowing and mulching you can’t see the grass anymore, then you may want to remove some of the material.

Whatever you do, Koski advises against leaving unmulched leaves on top of the lawn all winter. Mixed with rain and snow, they will become matted. The debris will transform into a thick, mushy layer that can smother and kill the lawn and become an ideal place where snow mold diseases can grow.

Mowing and Mulching Tips

Follow these tips for mowing and mulching leaves:

• Set the mowing height as high as possible.

• Make a couple of passes over the lawn to ensure thorough mulching.

• To keep leaves from matting on top of the lawn, mow frequently — at least once a week and more often following heavy leaf drop.

Also, use mulched leaves for other areas of your yard. As they decompose, they add organic matter to the soil and food for earthworms.

• Place mulched leaves around perennials, trees and shrubs.

• Remove dead material from this year’s veggies and place them in the veggie garden.

Still left with too many leaves? Keep them out of the landfill by sharing them with a friend or neighbor who has a compost pile — or recycle them at one of the many locations that accepts leaves for composting. Contact your local municipality.

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Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.

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