It may be the middle of summer, but with fall on its way, it pays to plan ahead. There’s no precise way to know when trees will start shedding their leaves, but once they start, it takes a lot of effort to keep them from turning your lawn into a soggy, grass-choking mess.
Can Leaves Be Mulched?
Leaves are acidic, but that acidity usually won’t affect the soil as long as the leaves are dealt with properly. Mulch sits on top of the soil, and in most cases, the soil surface acts as a buffer, preventing acidification. The exception is sandy soil, which can easily absorb mulch, affecting its pH. As for other factors including nitrogen loss, thatch and weed infestation are not altered when mulching leaves. This means in most areas, well-mulched leaves can be left on the lawn, unless they come from a black walnut tree.
Black walnut trees contain a chemical called “juglone.” It’s used in the roots to fend off other plants, but it’s present throughout the entire plant, including the leaves. Tomatoes, blackberries, blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons and many other plants are susceptible to this poison. If the leaves are added to a much or compost pile, the juglone will decompose after about four weeks, making it safe to use on soil. If they’re mulched directly into the soil, it can take two months or more for the chemical to break down, which could affect planting in the spring.
For most lawns, leaves can be managed through frequent mowing using your Cub Cadet’s mulching mode. Have a mower like the CC 30 that has a side discharge deck? Mow the lawn when it’s slightly damp so that the leaves clump together as they exit the chute. After your first pass, go back and mow over these leaf trails to chop them into small pieces, then rake them into the grass.
Ideally, the leaves should be slightly damp to suppress dust. Wet leaves will be hard for the mower to lift and chop, while dry leaves will create massive amounts of dust, necessitating the use of a dust mask and safety glasses when mowing. Leaves should be chopped up before they get to more than three or four inches in height, which may require more frequent mowing while the leaves are falling. Wet, matted leaves should be removed within four days to reduce negative effects to the grass.
A sharp blade is critical for getting small, easily digested pieces of leaves. If you haven’t sharpened the blades on your mower since the start of the season, now is a good time to inspect them.
If you have a lot of leaves or you have black oak leaves that need to be picked up, the easiest way to handle them is with a lawn vacuum. The action of the impeller creates suction to lift the leaves and breaks them up, compacting them for easy disposal.
When using the vacuum, the nozzle of the vacuum should be adjusted so that it’s close to the ground without touching it.
As with mowing, the leaves should be moist, but not wet. However, there are ways to work around different conditions: wet leaves can be picked up if the bag is emptied when it’s just half full, and dry leaves will require more frequent bag cleaning to remove the resulting dust from the bag’s pores.
When using the hose, let the vacuum do the work for you. Keep the end of the nozzle slightly above the ground will let the impeller’s strong suction pull out any leaves crammed between walls and landscape features.
How Do I Dispose of Leaves?
The most environmentally friendly way to deal with yard waste is through composting. If you don’t want to do it yourself, most areas have a composting area set up for fall waste, letting you drop off your leaves to be turned into mulch. Some municipalities also have trash pickup days that will accept yard waste so you don’t need to deliver your leaves to the waste site.
Where to Buy Cub Cadet Parts
Need some new high lift blades or an extra bag to keep your vacuum working? Visit www.cubparts.com for all of your Cub Cadet needs. We have a wide selection of OEM parts in stock, and we can ship them anywhere in the U.S. and Canada.