Fall Leaf Cleanup

Author: Jeffrey Lego

Leaf Mulching is one of the more organic methods of leaf removal. And, it is very lawn friendly.

If you have a push mower, it is more than likely that it is already mulch-capable. Most of the time, there is a plastic shoot where grass exits the push mowers deck. You should be able to remove the plastic shoot, and block the hole in the mowers deck. Most newer lawn mowers come with a mulching blade as well. If not, one can easily be picked up for around the price of $20.00.

If you have a riding lawn mower, attachments can be purchased (for most) to block the hole in the mowers deck. Mulching blades can also be purchased for a price in the area of $40.00. The prices and attachments vary by mower type, but most of the time the attachment is a small plastic cover with gumby straps that hold it to the deck. It simply fits of the exit hole on the mowers deck, blocking anything from escaping and in return mulching it

So why should you mulch?

Well there is a few good reasons. The first, it is a lot easier than manually raking your leafs with a leaf rake. Depending on your yard size, leaf raking can be a long, pretty intense task. And with the technology available in this day and age, it is not a "must do" task.

The second, mulching leafs and returning them back to the soil is an excellent organic lawn care method. It return rich nutrients and iron to your lawn that grass strives on. By returning these nutrients back to the soil, you will notice a thicker, greener, all around healthier outcome within your grass.

The third is the cost factor. Tools like leaf blowers and vacuums can get very expensive. With some leaf blowers costing $300-$500 and up, and some vacuums costing $300-$1000 dollars you can easily see why mulching is extremely less expensive. You should replace blades every season depending on the use involved. So at the worst conditions, and the cheapest leaf removal tool it would take almost 8 years of purchasing mulching blades before you would reach the cost of a low-end leaf vacuum!

Leaf Blowing

Leaf blowers are a very effective, but also very expensive method of leaf removal depending on the size of your yard. Small leaf blowers can run $140 to $300 dollars. While they are good for small leaf removal projects, sidewalks, and driveways, people with larger, tree filled yards will quickly become disappointed with the limitations on the smaller blowers.

For larger, leafier yards, I personally recommend the BR600 from Stihl. While there are more powerful models available, the BR600 packs a punch and is able to move large piles of leafs, wet or dry. It also moves snow with little problem.

Depending on if you live in a city, and what city that is, normally there are scheduled leaf pickup services. By blowing your leaves to the curb side or street side, large city trucks with vacuum hoses will come and remove you leaf piles as long as they are in an acceptable area. The city than compost or mulches the leafs for recycled use at a later time. And normally this is done free of charge!

Leaf Vacuuming.. Compressing

Leaf vacuuming also provides a method of mulching or compressing your leaves.

My favorite leaf vacuum is the stihl hand held model. It is light weight and compresses leafs at a 14:1 bag ratio. The bag straps onto your back and has an easy unzip and dump feature. They run around $300 but are worth the money if you need to go this route. I normally use the BR600 to blow the leafs into a pile and then use the leaf vacuum to mulch and compress the pile. The mulched leaves can then be used for a compost or a cheap-organic fertalizer where needed.

Another type of leaf vacuum is the walk behind model. Troy-Bilt and Craftsman make notable versions of these. They basically look like a push mower, except they have a vacuum attached to the front and a fairly large bag attached to the back. They do what they are supposed to, however I am not a giant fan of these models. I would rather purchase the mulching attachment for a push or riding lawn mower and mulch the leafs. These pieces of equipment can run in the area of $500 depending on versions.

The other type of leaf vacuum is the riding mower attachment. It is the same principle as the push mower version, except for use with a riding lawn mower. I am not a giant fan of these models either and they are more for professional use. They are also very pricey, $600+.


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