Why Mulching Fall Leaves is More Environmentally Friendly Than Raking

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Lawn & Garden

Many people have fond memories of raking leaves in the fall before piling them into bags and sending them off to the landfill. However, this practice is no longer considered environmentally friendly. In 2015, yard trimmings accounted for 34.7 million tons of municipal solid waste, with 10.8 million tons going to landfills. Instead of raking and bagging, consider using a mulching mower to shred the dry leaves into small pieces. These tiny pieces of shredded leaves will filter down between the blades of grass and add vital nutrients back into the soil, such as nitrogen. Mulching also helps keep weeds at bay, holds moisture in the soil, and moderates soil temperatures.

If you have a lawn, it’s important to get rid of fallen leaves as they can smother and kill the grass and prevent new growth in the spring. The ideal time to mulch the leaves is when you can see the blades of grass poking through the blanket of leaves. If the leaves get too heavy, rake the extra ones into a pile and then spread them around your trees or shrubs. Some cities and municipalities have stopped picking up bagged yard clippings, including leaves, due to cost and environmental concerns. Instead, they have offered mulching workshops and encouraged homeowners to invest in mulching blades for mowers to create their own “homegrown” mulch.


1. Why is raking leaves bad?

Raking leaves can be harmful to the environment and to your lawn. When you rake leaves, you disturb the soil and the microorganisms that live there. This can lead to nutrient loss and a decrease in soil quality. Additionally, when you rake leaves, you remove a natural source of fertilizer from your lawn, which can lead to a less healthy lawn overall.

2. What should I do with my fall leaves instead of raking?

Instead of raking leaves, consider mulching them with a lawn mower. Mulching leaves can provide a natural source of fertilizer for your lawn, as well as improve soil quality. Alternatively, you could use the leaves to create compost for your garden or donate them to a local community garden.

3. What are the benefits of mulching leaves?

Mulching leaves can provide a natural source of fertilizer for your lawn, as well as improve soil quality. Additionally, mulching leaves can help to retain moisture in the soil, which can be beneficial during dry spells. Mulching also saves time and energy compared to raking, as it doesn’t require as much manual labor.

4. What are the benefits of composting leaves?

Composting leaves can provide a rich source of organic matter for your garden. When leaves are composted, they break down into a nutrient-rich soil that can be used to improve soil quality and promote healthy plant growth. Additionally, composting leaves can help to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

5. What are some tips for mulching leaves?

When mulching leaves, it’s important to use a lawn mower with a mulching blade. You should also mow over the leaves several times to ensure that they are finely chopped. Additionally, it’s important to mulch leaves when they are dry, as wet leaves can clog the mower’s blades.

6. How can I create compost from my fall leaves?

To create compost from your fall leaves, you can either use a compost bin or simply create a pile of leaves in a corner of your yard. It’s important to mix the leaves with other organic matter, such as grass clippings and vegetable scraps, to help them break down faster. You should also keep the pile moist and turn it regularly to ensure that the compost is evenly distributed.

7. Are there any downsides to mulching leaves?

One potential downside to mulching leaves is that it can be difficult to mulch large quantities of leaves all at once. Additionally, if you have a lot of trees on your property, you may need to mulch leaves several times throughout the fall season. However, overall, the benefits of mulching leaves far outweigh any potential downsides.

8. Can I still rake leaves if I want to?

While mulching or composting leaves is a more sustainable option, you can still rake leaves if you prefer. However, it’s important to dispose of them properly, either by composting them or by taking them to a yard waste disposal site. Avoid burning leaves, as this can release harmful pollutants into the air.

9. How can I encourage my neighbors to stop raking leaves?

If you want to encourage your neighbors to stop raking leaves, consider organizing a community event to promote sustainable lawn care practices. You could also share information about the benefits of mulching and composting with your neighbors, or offer to help them mulch or compost their own leaves.

10. What other sustainable lawn care practices should I be aware of?

In addition to mulching and composting leaves, there are many other sustainable lawn care practices you can implement. For example, you can use natural fertilizers, such as compost or manure, instead of synthetic ones. You can also plant native plants and grasses, which require less water and are better adapted to your local climate. Finally, you can reduce the amount of water you use on your lawn by using a rain barrel to collect water for watering.

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