What if we told you that you can actually improve your landscape by not bagging your leaves for trash pickup?

Instead, you can mulch your leaves and leave them on the lawn. Mulched leaves will bio-degrade, providing nutrients to the grass roots, micro-organisms, and worms in your landscape. They also help regulate the soil temperature when it gets cold, retain moisture in soil on dry days, and can reduce weed propagation next year.

But you can’t simply let leaves sit on the lawn. You’ll still have to do a little bit of work to mulch them.

If you have flower beds or other non-turf areas, you should rake or use a blower to move leaves onto the grass. Then, run your mower without the grass catcher. If you have a mulch setting, make sure that is in place. You might need to do this a couple of times to break up all of the leaves.

The goal is to break down the leaves so that they can decompose more quickly and so that they are not “suffocating” the lawn by covering all of your grass.

Before you mulch, wait until the leaves are dry. Trying to mulch or mow wet leaves will only leave you with a clogged mower. When they are dry and crunchy, it’s time to get to work. Mow and leave everything—mulched leaves and lawn clippings—on your lawn.

If you have excess debris—big piles of mulched leaves left behind—you can put that extra mulch on your vegetable garden, flower beds, or around your trees and shrubs. Use them somewhere in your landscape instead of bagging them and throwing them away.

Important note from Carole at Camelot Design: if your leaves have powdery mildew on them do NOT follow the recommendations above. Instead, thoroughly rake and clean out the leaves from all areas of the garden and landscape and dispose/destroy. Learn more about powdery mildew here.