Fallen Leaves On Turf

Tools used to get up fall leaves

I have lots of leaves on my turf. Most of the morning I used a combination of a bagging lawnmower and a leaf blower to get my turf uncovered. Predominantly, I have three types of large deciduous trees in my yard. My red maple, willow oak, and Chinese pastiche leaves are all falling in abundance now. I personally like to use my bagging mower to get them up, if I can. Why, because it gets up more than the leaves, and it also reduces the leaf volume. The real issue with this method is if the leaves get too thick, emptying the bag is a chore that happens too frequently. That was the case under my red maple today, so I blew most of the leaves off into a pile and the mowed the area. Of course, raking is a necessary chore in some areas, and I like a metal leaf rake over the big plastic ones as they are more flexible. Some leaves make excellent compost or good additions tilled into the vegetable garden. As a general rule, maple leaves are excellent for composting in a short amount of time, while oaks take much longer. Fragrant leaves like Chinese pastiche I do not like to compost, even thought they break down quickly. If you want quick compost and have the space, once you bag maple leaves, add water to the bag. Then leave the bag sealed over winter. They will be in a state of decomposition, so they can be easily added to your garden in Spring. While leaves are simply a must to remove off turf, what ever choice you use, make sure the leaves are used for compost. In our community, leaves are vacuumed up along the street and go into a big organic trash pile and eventually turn into compost. This is a good thing. After all, decomposed leaves make excellent organic soil conditioners.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

4 thoughts on “Fallen Leaves On Turf

    • Well, I guess you can leave them on but in Spring when green up occurs and they are matted in the turf, you probably will have inconstant green up and patchy looking turf. Sunlight is every thing for quality turf.

  1. May I ask why “fragrant” leaves are not preferred? We recently purchased a heavily treed property and I’m not sure I’ll have the luxury of leaves being easily distinguishable once on the ground.

    • I think you are picking up on my personal preferences. As Chinese Pistache decompose they go from fragrant to a rather unpleasant odor. Since I have a small yard and compost bin close at hand, I watch waht I compost.

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