Most people dread the constant raking of leaves that fall brings, but I actually relish it. More than anything, I welcome that the fallen leaves that blanket my lawn and garden are just about as important to cultivating healthy soil as a soaking rain is.
Leaf Mulch: Nature’s Gift to Gardeners
By Chris Lambton
- Ideal for raking and transporting large quantities of leaves quickly and easily
- Lightweight aluminum and resin design reduces weight for easy use
- Durable tines designed to flex, not break, under pressure
- Ergonomically shaped handle fits the natural shape and motion of your hand for exceptional comfort
- Extra-long handle improves reach and posture to help reduce back fatigue
- Head width: 24"
- Rake length: 67"
- Lifetime warranty
- Leaf Rake (Large, 24 in)
- Hooks onto the front of the StaySharp™ Max/Momentum™ Reel Mower (model 6201) to capture grass clippings and keep your lawn clean
- Built-in handle makes attaching and emptying grass clippings a breeze
- Heavy-duty steel frame with a UV- and mildew-resistant polyester screen offers lasting durability
- Holds one bushel of grass clippings
- Quick, easy assembly
- Limited one-year warranty
- Grass Catcher for StaySharp™ Max Reel Lawn Mowers (18")
- Ideal for eco-friendly cutting of all grass types, even tough southern varieties like St. Augustine, Zoysia, Bahia and Bermuda
- Advanced design is 60% easier to push than other reel mowers
- InertiaDrive™ reel delivers twice the cutting power to glide through tough spots that would jam other reel mowers
- StaySharp™ cutting system cuts without unwanted contact, greatly reducing wear for long-lasting performance without costly annual blade sharpening
- VersaCut™ technology offers cut height settings from 1"-4", plus one-touch height adjustment
- Inset wheels allow the blades to extend across the mower’s full width, eliminating uncut strips and edges near foundations and fences
- Reversible grass chute can direct clippings forward, away from your feet, or backward and downward, making it easier to mow tough patches while limiting messiness
- 18" cut width
- Limited 3-year warranty
- StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower
- The Fiskars® Scoop Shovel features a big, secure, aluminum head, making it ideal for moving large volumes of mulch, grain, seeds, soil and more
- Riveted connections ensure the tool will not come apart
- Lightweight, fiberglass handle offers strength
- D-handle design reduces strain for additional comfort and control
- Full lifetime warranty
- Scoop Shovel
- Ideal for loosening, lifting and turning garden soil or other garden materials like compost, mulch or hay
- Welded boron steel head and 17-gauge steel shaft provide durability that far outlasts wood-handled tools and won’t flex like fiberglass
- Angled D-handle keeps your wrist in a neutral position to reduce strain and provides a secure grip
- Pointed tines penetrate dense, hardened soil easily
- Teardrop-shaped shaft fits the natural shape and motion of your hand for exceptional comfort and control
- Mid grip improves control and insulates against the cold
- Designed for convenient hanging storage in your shed or garage
- Powder-coated steel resists rust and offers easy cleaning
- Length: 47"
- Full lifetime warranty
- Ergo D-handle Steel Garden Fork (47")
A lightweight yet durable design makes raking your yard easier than ever.
Add this Grass Catcher to your StaySharp™ Max or Momentum™ Reel Mower to keep your lawn clipping-free.
Eco-friendly lawn mowing is easier than ever with an advanced reel mower that’s 60% easier to push than standard reel mowers.
Loosen, lift and turn garden materials with a durable garden fork featuring advanced ergonomics.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
Using leaf mulch is an organic, inexpensive, nutrient-rich way to make sure your plants will grow and produce year after year. Fall is in the air, the leaves are on the ground and I couldn’t be happier.
To be clear, I don’t enjoy the work of raking leaves any more than you do. However, I do have a solid appreciation for what leaves add to my garden and landscape just a few months after they fall. Where most people see leaf debris as trash, along with hours of raking or blowing, bagging and hauling, I see garden beds covered in rich, organic compost.
Nature knows what it’s doing. In fact, did you know that leaves contain 50 to 80% of the nutrients that are extracted from the earth by tree roots? Recycling this precious resource to replenish soil will nourish all that is planted in it. If you’re already gathering them up anyway, doesn’t using leaves as mulch make perfect sense?
What is Leaf Mulch?
Leaf mulch is simply leaves used as an organic mulch that covers your top soil. If you take a walk in the woods, you’ll notice that Mother Nature uses leaves to mulch the ground underneath shrubs and trees naturally. This layer of leaves performs several key functions:
• Stops the growth of weeds around the base of plants
• Helps maintain soil moisture by reducing surface evaporation
• Keeps soil temperatures consistent
• Prevents soil erosion and crusting
• Adds valuable nutrients
The shredded the leaves I apply around my garden beds quickly go through a transformation into organic matter that promotes the life of soil-dwelling organisms. I know earthworms will feast on my leaf mulch and then burrow deep into the soil to increase nutrients and encourage drainage. Beneficial fungi and bacteria begin working to decompose the organic matter, creating a nutrient-rich fertilizer for plant and tree roots. And what makes using leaves as mulch really amazing is that, no matter what condition your soil is in to begin with, mulching with leaves eventually results in a well-draining, moist garden soil. When I use leaf mulch for vegetable garden beds, I rest easy, knowing I’m not introducing weed seeds into my precious garden area.
You can take it a step further and transform your leaves into leaf mold. Leaf mold is leaf mulch that has already begun the process of breaking down. One of the easiest ways to create leaf mold is to designate an area of your yard as a leaf pile. Pile your shredded leaves in this area and cover with a plastic tarp to maintain moisture. I like to use the Fiskars® D-Handle Steel Garden Fork to turn my leaves on a regular basis to keep them breaking down uniformly. I’ve found the welded steel construction of this garden fork is more durable than wood and allows me to really dig deep and work quickly. Whole leaves can take up to three years to break down into leaf mold, but shredded ones can be ready in as little as six months. Work your finished leaf mold into your garden to increase the drainage and moisture levels in your flower and vegetable beds.
Leaves are also a wonderful addition for compost piles. The Eco Bin 75-Gallon Compost Bin is big enough to add freshly fallen leaves or leaves from your leaf mold pile to fulfill your compost mix carbon requirement. I like to use five parts leaves to two parts grass clippings. Frequent turning gives your compost pile plenty of oxygen for uniform decomposition.
How to Make Leaf Mulch
How to mulch leaves isn’t a difficult task – the trees take care of the hard part. You may be wondering: Can leaves be used as mulch just as they are? Depending on the type of leaf, you can often simply rake up whole leaves around the bases of your trees and shrubs for mulch and insulation. Three inches of leaf mulch works well for most traditional mulching applications.
But shredding leaves to make leaf litter helps them break down easier, looks nicer and gives you the ability to easily work them into the soil in the spring. The smaller the shredded leaf mulch, the easier it is for the leaves to break down. This prevents the leaves from forming a big, moldy mat on the top of the soil.
It isn’t difficult to shred leaves. While there isn’t one best way to mulch leaves, like I mentioned above, mulching leaves with lawn mower attachments is probably the easiest way to create nicely shredded leaf litter. The key is to make sure you have turned your leaf pile, so your leaves are nice and dry. Wet leaves do not shred well. You’ll also want to remove and sticks in the pile so as to protect your lawn mower. I used the
Fiskars® StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower with the
StaySharp™ Max Grass Catcher attachment to slice up my leaves and catch them after going through the mower.
To spread your leaves in a thick layer and turn leaves into mulch using your lawn mower, you want to go nice and slow. I like to do a few passes to achieve an even texture. Once the leaves have been shredded, use the
Fiskars® Aluminum Scoop Shovel to add into the
Fiskars® Kangaroo® Garden Bag for transport to a vegetable or flower bed. I use the
Fiskars® Ergo D-handle Steel Garden Fork to move my mulch into it’s final location.
As much as I relish this gift of nature for my garden, I also take pride in knowing recycling leaves into shredded leaf mulch is good environmental stewardship. By keeping leaves, grass clippings and other yard waste at home, we significantly reduce landfill volume. Now that you know how to make leaf mulch, you can save time, stop spending money on packaged mulch and reduce the need for supplemental fertilizers. All in all – leaf mulching is just good gardening.
Is Mulching Leaves Good for Your Lawn?
If you’re looking to get out of your weekend raking, I might have a solution for you. While leaving a heavy layer of wet, thick leaves on your lawn is certainly not good for your grass, mulching leaves into lawn grass is actually a great way to achieve a low maintenance and beautiful yard. Using leaves as mulch on your lawn:
• Feeds your soil with organic matter and rich nutrients
• Adds organic matter to maintain and absorb moisture
• Aerates the soil for easy spring seed germination
• Keeps leaf piles from washing into drains and ditches
• Reuses a free resource in an environmentally-friendly way
Many mowers feature a mulch setting for easily mulching leaves into grass. All you need to do is insert the mulch plug and close the side port. Older mowers can be retrofitted with a mulch kit. Slowly mow over your dried leaves to create a fine mulch. Depending on your leaves, you may need to repeat the process several times. The goal is to create a fine leaf mulch that’s hardly noticeable on your lawn.