Snohomish County Reusable Materials Exchange

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Recyclopedia: Leaves


When grass growns on good soil with lots of organic matter, the lawn is easier to care for and looks terrific. The easiest way to make sure the soil under the grass is good is to leave a layer of finely chopped leaves on the lawn every fall. A half inch of finely chopped leaves, left on the lawn every year, will insure your turf will have a deep root system and will stay dense which prevents weeds from showing up. The leaves are pulled down into the soil by earthworms. By late spring the worms will have either consumed or moved all those leaves below the soil’s surface. The leaves become food for the microbes that populate a healthy soil. The best way to leave a half inch layer of chopped leaves on the lawn is to use a “mulching" lawn mower. These mowers are designed to cut the grass blades and the leaves into small pieces before throwing them back on to the turf. One half inch of finely chopped leaves over 1000 square feet of lawn is equal to 33 bags of whole leaves. If you have the average lawn which is about 6000 square feet, you can leave the equivalent of over 150 bags of leaves right on your lawn, feeding the soil, and saving all that work raking and bagging. Not Too Much Of A Good Thing - You can leave too many chopped leaves on your lawn in the fall. A layer up an inch thick will do good things and not hurt the living grass plants. Much more than that could smother some of the grass plants and kill them. Since your grass should be mowed at 2 inches or higher, a layer of 1/4 inch to 1/2 inche won’t even be visable. If you can easily see the chopped leaves, then make sure the layer is not too thick. For more information see: http://www.yardener.com/RECYCLINGLEAVES.html (the source for the above information) or this information from Texas A M University: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/county/smith/compost/leafmanage.html