Mulching instead of raking?: Lawn, Turf, and Grass  -- Landscape Discussion Forum and Review Mulching instead of raking?: Lawn, Turf, and Grass -- Landscape Discussion Forum

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 11-11-2002, 12:23 Post: 44875
Jack P
2002-11-11 12:23:03
Post: 44875
 Mulching instead of raking?

Well it is that time of year again and once more I am tempted to simply mow / mulch the leaves instead of raking them. Somehow I am struck by the wisdom of: "If it sounds too good to be true..." Does anyone have any real data on the pluses or minuses of mulching leaves into the lawn?






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 11-11-2002, 12:32 Post: 44877
DennisCTB

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 Mulching instead of raking?

Chopping them is my main way of getting rid of them, I have a side discharge deck, and only about 30% of my lawn gets a heavy leaf drop.

I chop them up by pushing them into the center and then spread them out by starting in the center and working my way out.

If needed I get out my back pack blower to redistribute denser mulch areas.

Seems to do no harm, it is not as instantly nice looking as if you pick them up, but after a few cuttings looks great!

DennisCTB






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 11-11-2002, 16:32 Post: 44887
DRankin



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 Mulching instead of raking?

I used a mulching mower on leaves for years with no ill effect on the lawn.






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 11-11-2002, 17:14 Post: 44888
dsg

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 Mulching instead of raking?

If you lived close to me I would give you $2.00 for every 55 Gal. bag full of mulched leaves. I put them on my loam pile and mix them in. With a little lime and about a years time makes the loam rich.

David






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 11-11-2002, 19:53 Post: 44895
Jim on Timberridge



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 Mulching instead of raking?

I think this topic was discussed last spring or so. I related that when I'm ready to attack the leaves, I wait until the ground and leaves are dry. Then use a "Landscape Rake" to stir up them up and dig them out of depressions, bare spots, etc. Then simply mow. Most tree leaves will dissipate quickly after they've been chopped up, even slightly. Need to avoid windrowing the debris, which will kill grass -- use the mower to disperse the chop. After 2-3 weeks into the growing season, the chop will have disappeared. Better than collecting, bagging, etc.
jim






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 11-11-2002, 20:17 Post: 44896
DennisCTB

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 Mulching instead of raking?

Jim,

Do you mean the "estate rake" on a tractor or by hand with a leaf rake?

I saw some talk of the estate rake last year, and they have them at Northern Tool, but I was not convinced that it could do the thatching for seeding that I needed to justify it.

DennisCTB
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 11-11-2002, 21:15 Post: 44897
Jim on Timberridge



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 Mulching instead of raking?

dennis:
yes. The estate rake is a pull-behind attachment that works on the same principle as a hay rake. I bought mine thru my JD dealer, but I've seen them at Northern. There are two sizes: the smaller works a swath 4-5'wide, while the larger has a 6-7' path. I described my experiences with them earlier this spring in a posting series concerning what to do with leaves.
Summarizing, I like them very much. They are adjustable for down-pressure on the rake tines. At the light setting, they are able to pick up oak leaves and grass clippings and windrow them. At a heavy setting they do a fairly good job of scratching the ground surface for seeding. But this also is more difficult to control - the unit tends to dog-walk sideways, which reduces the effective width and is hard on the tines (bends them). I traded for the larger unit because I'm working 6 acres and the smaller one took too long. Pulling with a Honda ES Foreman ATV. They're well built, but the company making them need a little upgrading with marketing, literature, operating instructions, all of which are really bad.
jim






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 11-12-2002, 06:41 Post: 44904
TomG

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 Mulching instead of raking?

Driving a riding mower in reverse over leaves chops them up a bit and windrows the rest. However, we stopped doing that because the chopped version is more difficult to pick up. Now we just rake leaves and needles onto a large tarp (for some reason my wife likes to rake or I'd take a look at the estate rake). I drag the tarp with the tractor to our bush where I excavated a compost pit.

The pit is about 6' x' 15' x 2' I doz it back and mound it up with leaves in the fall and pull soil over the top. Around planting time next spring I turn the compost by dozing it with a box blade, spread it and pull more soil on top. Like DSG I add lime and also use a bit of high nitrogen fertilizer. The pit is still in the spring but it's mostly down to ground level by fall when I doz it back, take out any compost I need before adding more leaves. Soil from any other digging I do also goes on the mound. Usually we empty the kitchen scraps composter into the pit as well. I think the process is going to be nearly self-sustaining, but I may have to add more soil than I dig elsewhere occasionally or the pit may keep getting deeper.

I think that lime speeds the composting action and so does high nitrogen fertilizer unless the compost pile also contains green fertilizer such as clippings. Composting takes both carbon and nitrogen sources and dried leaves alone aren't adequate as a nitrogen source. What ever we're doing it's working. We go from a 4' or 5' layer of mixed soil and leaves when it's turned in the spring to about 2' of black earth in the fall.






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 11-12-2002, 07:47 Post: 44909
TomG

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 Mulching instead of raking?

As an afterthought I'll add that spontaneous combustion is a risk in composting. The size and moisture content of a pile should be considered. I haven't heard if commercial accelerates add to a risk of combustion or not, but it's something to be aware of. In my operation I do add soil to the leaves periodically and go back and forth with the tractor so I get a mix of soil and leaves rather than a thick layer of leaves above ground level.

I remember seeing several large piles of saw dust and chips smoldering away is a large urban park and reported it. The parks people already knew about it and the impression I got was that it wasn't uncommon for the piles to start smoldering before they disposed of them.






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 11-12-2002, 22:20 Post: 44940
JonB



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 Mulching instead of raking?

TomG, my compost piles (8x4x4) get pretty warm. I turn it and keep it moist. I've seen steam rise off in the summer, but never had anything approaching smoke (spontaneous combustion). What would get it that hot? Is it added fertilizer? My pile is leaves, branches, kitchen scraps, and just about any organic growth from the property. Thanks. JonB






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Discussion Boards > Active Subjects > Messages as Posted > Lawn, Turf, and Grass Forum

Thread 44875 Filter by Poster:
DennisCTB 2 | DRankin 1 | dsg 2 | Jack P 1 | Jim on Timberridge 2 | JonB 2 | lbrown59 1 | MOWED 1 | Mr Ed 1 | TomG 4 |




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