• Jim Mosher

Mulching leaves, clippings best for lawn, environment

The pre-mulch. The lawn is just springing up after its winter slumber.

The same lawn three weeks later. The recent rain helped, mind you.

One of the rites of spring involves yardwork. The main chore is raking off the thatch of leaves and grass.

Most people haul out the rake and give the lawn a brush. Drag-drag, pile, pull, scrape. It’s an endless, glamourless job but a good work-out on a crisp day.

Once the winter’s lawn fuzz of leaves and grass has been piled, it’s usually picked up and placed in compostable bags for local pick-up. The compostable bags are transported to a local landfill where they wind up in a compost pile.

A better alternative is to mulch the leaves with your lawnmower — and leave the mulch where it belongs. This requires less physical work and takes less time. The leaves should be mulched one way then cross-mulched after for a better result.

The added benefit of mulching is that the now-mulched lawn waste is a dusty food mix that will provide the best no-cost fertilizer for your lawn.

If you use a gas lawnmower, you will use about four litres of gasoline, depending on the number of passes.

If you put compostable bags of leaves out of pick-up, there are higher costs associated, including the cost of the bags and the gas used by the larger vehicles required to transport hundreds of bags to the landfill.

Vacuuming your lawn and bagging the mulch takes away the valuable natural fertilizer that nourishes growth. Leaving the mulch on the lawn eliminates having to purchase retail fertilizers that contain nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates that can leach after a rain into drainage ditches then, ultimately, Lake Winnipeg.

The lake is already being threatened with an excess of these nutrients, which are associated with potentially toxic algal blooms — cyanobacterial blooms to be precise.

Transporting your leaves to off-site compost piles provides no net benefit to your lawn.

No offence to Canadian Tire on the leaves transport front.

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