More and more people are becoming aware of the health risks associated with leaf blowers as well as the environmental pollution and destruction of habitat caused by leaf blowers, particularly gas-powered blowers. More than 120 communities around the country have restrictions on leaf blower use and that number continues to grow. For more information on the health hazards and environmental and social issues surrounding excessive leaf blower use please visit Quiet Communities and Huntington CALM.
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A Wasteful Practice…
The annual ritual of raking, blowing, piling, bagging, and trucking leaves out of residential neighborhoods costs each homeowner – or their landscaper – hours of time each fall. It also robs the yards of one of nature’s greatest resources: rich, natural compost. The practice of leaf blowing causes serious diesel and particulate matter pollution, especially with the use of 2-stroke backpack leaf blowers so commonly used in suburban backyards.
There are alternatives and they’ll save you time AND money
A more sustainable way of managing leaves involves mulching or mulch-mowing. Mulching helps to limit the negative impacts associated with leaf blowers.
Mulching is easy to learn and easy to do whether a homeowner or professional.
More and more landscapers and homeowners are switching from blowing leaves to mulching them.
Mulch mowing can save municipalities (and taxpayers) tens of thousands of dollars, by avoiding the necessity of municipal collection.
The Benefits of Leaf Mulching
Mulching the leaves on your property has many advantages. It reduces noise and greenhouse gases, because it reduces the use of leaf blowers; in an added bonus, it also enhances the health of your yard by creating valuable compost, which enriches the topsoil. Leaf mulching avoids the spreading dust and contaminants into the air and saves you time and money. The benefits of leaf mulching are numerous.
Mulching improves soil structure, reduces the need for fertilizer and avoids water pollution by reducing phosphorus and fertilizer leaching.
Mulching reduces the safety hazard of piled up or bagged leaves on the roadsides and saves taxpayer money for municipal leaf collection.
Mulch, when spread on garden beds, suppresses weeds and improves soil quality and when it decomposes into compost, it suppresses disease.
By adding organic matter to the soil, leaf mulching improves water retention and percolation, for improved rain water management.
Additional organic matter loosens the soil allowing grass roots to penetrate more deeply, improving grass health.
What is Leaf Mulching?
Leaf mulching is the practice of chopping leaves into small pieces. Mulching can be done with a lawn mower or a leaf shredder.
Mulched leaves can be left on your lawn or they can be piled 3″ or 4″ deep on garden beds and around shrub roots, where they act as a protective layer in the winter and, in the growing season, prevent weed growth and help conserve water. Leaf mulch decomposes over time adding important nutrients and structure to the soil.
Mulch-mowing can be done by both homeowners with small mowers or by commercial landscapers who can buy relatively inexpensive mulching kits to attach to the mower deck instead of regular blades. Deep piles of leaves are no match for landscapers equipped with leaf mulching blades and deck attachments. Mulch-mowing with a regular mower might require repeated passes in the leaf season.
If there is too much leaf material left on the lawn after a deep pile has been mulched, redistribute it with a rake into the planting beds or spread it around the lawn.
Like mowing deep, wet grass, mulch mowing deep piles of wet leaves can be difficult. Spread the leaves thin and try to mow when leaves are dry.
ASK YOUR LANDSCAPER TO HELP! CLICK HERE FOR: PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPER RESOURCES.
To add a 2” layer of mulch to a 40 x 4 ft plant bed you need one cubic yard of mulch. One cubic yard of mulch delivered to your home costs about $30; plus a delivery charge. Mulch in plastic bags, sold at the store, is even more expensive and less environmentally friendly. Leaf mulch is an inexpensive mulch that you already have available. Leaf mulch is not treated with chemical preservatives or paints and it decomposes more quickly than wood mulch into healthy soil.