More than twenty Westchester communities, among them Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, White Plains, and Yonkers, already encourage homeowners and landscapers to mulch fall leaves and clippings and leave them on the lawn. They are part of a county-wide campaign called “Love’Em and Leave ‘Em (LELE).”
If you’re getting ready to rake your fallen leaves into some big lawn waste bags, you can save time and money by doing leaf mulching (shredding in place). This process, shown in the video here, reduces the organic yard waste that municipalities must then haul away at great expense, and also improves and quality of your lawn and soil.
Mulch is a layer of organic material, like shredded leaves, that you spread around, stabilizing soil temperature, preventing weeds, feeding the soil, and holding moisture in the soil, which conserves water and helps keep the soil healthy during dry spells. When you mulch using dry leaves on your lawn, the leaves decompose fairly quickly leaving important nutrients in the soil that actually help feed the grass and that significantly reduce the need for nitrogen in fertilizer.
In a letter to New Rochelle residents upon launching the campaign, Mayor Noam Bramson notes that leaf mulching by homeowners, landscapers and city parks can improve the overall environment. “Transporting and disposing of leaves wastes energy and contributes to pollution. Also, leaf piles block streets and traffic, clog storm drains, and result in excess nutrient runoff ( phosphorus & nitrogen) polluting our waterways.”
When you mulch you should reduce your leaves to dime-size pieces. You should be able to see through the mulched leaf layer to about half an inch of grass. Any kind of rotary action mower can do the job and any kind of leaves can be shredded. You’ll probably need a few passes of your mower.
The campaign hosts free demonstrations for homeowners and landscapers both in Spanish and English– an upcoming presentation is scheduled for Oct. 1st in Yonkers.
To find out more about training, on-site consultations, and other resources, you can email the campaign at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weinberg Nature Center photograph and video courtesy LELE campaign, Westchester County.