As the vibrant hues of fall foliage adorn Southwest Virginia, residents are gearing up for the inevitable task of dealing with the falling leaves. While the default response might be reaching for the trash bags, experts at Virginia Tech are urging a reconsideration of this traditional approach.
The recommendation from Virginia Tech’s experts is clear: mulch your leaves. This eco-friendly alternative involves running the fallen leaves over with a standard lawn mower or, even better, a specialized mulching mower.
Beyond the immediate benefits of saving time and reducing the influx of bagged leaves into landfills, mulching serves as a natural fertilizer for your lawn. According to Mike Goatley, Virginia Tech’s Extension Turf Grad Specialist, the process enhances organic matter in the soil and feeds essential microbes. These microbes play a crucial role in breaking down the mulched leaves, ultimately contributing to improved root development in the turf grass system.
“We increase organic matter in the soil with feeding microbes in the soil that are going to degrade this, and as this soil breaks down, it is going to develop a better root development of your turf grass system,” explained Goatley.
The timing of mulching is a key consideration. Goatley recommends mulching leaves when they are slightly damp, as this makes them easier to shred efficiently. This approach not only aids in the breakdown process but also ensures a smoother integration of the mulched leaves into the soil.
By advocating for mulching, Virginia Tech’s experts are aligning with sustainable practices that benefit both individual homeowners and the environment at large. As autumn sets in, consider trading in the traditional trash bags for a mulching mower, and let your lawn reap the rewards of this natural and efficient leaf disposal method.