Updated: 8/16/2012 01:03:43 PM

Leaves of 3 colors

Mulch Them In Place/Mow Them 
Leaves are rich in carbon, phosphorus, and potassium - all essential nutrients needed by plants including turf grasses (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources). Simply mow your leaves along with the grass during fall, and let the small leaf pieces filter down among the grass blades. Make sure grass is exposed to the sun after the tree leaves have been mulched. 

The following guidance is taken from the Department of Horticulture - Michigan State University Green Tips sheet on Mulching Tree Leaves Into Lawns.

  • Leave your mower set to the same height you use to mow your lawn
  • Use a rotary mower that pulverizes the leaves
  • Mow when the leaves are dry
  • Make sure that mower blades are sharp and use a slow movement with the mower to help grind the leaves finer
  • 3-4 passes may be required to chop leaves fine enough so that they filter through the turf and expose grass leaves to sunlight; i.e. make sure that pulverized leaves do not cover the grass blades completely
  • Ground leaves should settle into the turf in a day or two, especially with rain
  • It is best to mow tree leaves regularly, not letting them lie more than 3-4 days
  • Although additional nitrogen has not shown any major benefit, the Department of Horticulture - Michigan State University suggests applying 1/2 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in addition to the normal fall fertilization in order to speed tree leaf decomposition

10-Minute Video: Turn Over a New Leaf 


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Compost Them 
Composting is the natural recycling process that you can begin at home with leaves, grass clippings, and other lawn and garden waste. Leaves are high in carbon and can be used as one of the brown yard wastes when making a compost pile.

Use Them For Mulch 
Mulches offer your garden and landscapes many benefits from moisture retention to temperature moderation to erosion prevention. Yard wastes such as grass clippings, leaves, and chipped or shredded brush and branches can be used as organic mulches. Organic mulches are usually applied 3 inches deep over the soil and around plants to achieve the benefits of mulching.

More Information:

Yard Waste Info
Alternative Yard Care
Green Garden Parties
Plastic Pots & Trays
Railroad Ties
Rain Gardens & Barrels   
Rocks & Soil