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Can I just mulch all the Cottonwood leaves?

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by pwagener, Aug 19, 2007.

  1. pwagener

    pwagener LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    If I were to just mulch cottonwood leaves into my lawn with my Mini-Fastrak, would it kill my lawn? If so, why? If it was because of acidity, couldn't I just Lime the lawn to correct the pH?

    I wasted $450 on the top-o-the-line Stihl backpack blower, and found that the leaves don't just follow the airstream, they blow every which way-360 degrees! I gave up on that after 6 straight hours.:hammerhead: Sold the blower 1 week later.

    The only rear bagger for the Mini-fastrack 36 costs $500.00 and it's 2 bags are so small, they would have to be dumped 40 to 50 times each...I won't be doing that either!

    I've heard of something called a "lawn vac" that you can rent, but if all it does is vacuum them up and spit them into a garbage bag, I might as well just buy the above rear bagger; it would take just as long:(

    In short, the fastest, easiest, and cheapest solution would be to just mulch 'em....unless it would kill the lawn. Your thoughts????
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    I have a client that mulches oak leaves into the lawn every fall. Some pine needles too. It seems to do fine. Try it.
  3. pwagener

    pwagener LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Thanks, Axe-

    do you know about how thick the layer of Oak leaves was?
  4. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,858

    not to be too discourgaging, but good luck mulching cottonwood leaves. We have tons of them here (it's out state tree even) and I deal with them every day. The leaves are very "leathery" and at best you can chop them up a little but they really don't grind to dust like many other tree leaves do.

    This summer has been a mess here with them, the cottonwoods have been dropping leaves, fairly heavily, for the last 6+ weeks now. At this rate I will have very little of them to clean up in the fall at least!

    All I do with them is bag them. If you have a lot to try to suck up it's usually a big dump saver if you run them over once and mulch them up as best you can, then go back over and suck them. The smaller peices fill the bags a lot tighter.
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    More than I thought would make sense, for sure. Actually lots.
    I will try to get before and after pictures of what he is actually doing. Of course it is always fun to see people move outside the box.
    I expected totally different results, even though we have 5 months of dormant grass and fairly mild winters lately. Still Oak leaves suck. Right?
    He is probably mowing high even for the fall, but I am watching this process closely to find out.
    The general rule of thumb is: If it doesn't smother it , it eventually feeds it.
  6. pwagener

    pwagener LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6


    what happens to the grass if you mulch the leaves and just leave 'em there? The sheer volume of leaves is just overwhelming to bag, whether they're mulched or whole! I really want to know if I can get away with this...


    I'm very interested to know if it "smothers it"!

  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    I would think that if it does not allow the grass blades to poke through the mulch that it has to smother it. I think he starts early and probably mows whenever it looks like they are building up again. I will be watching this more closely, but the lawn doesn't look that bad.
    Try a small area see what happens then blow the mulched material if it looks bad. It should blow more easily when mulched without being all over the place. Personally I have real good luck with a blower, but like I say. "mulching seems to have worked for this guy".
    Always proceed with caution and be safe rather than sorry.
    I don't have any experience cleaning cottonwoods so let me know how it turns out. good luck.
  8. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,858

    I'm more worried about APPEARANCE than anything. My customers would go ape if I left leaves on the lawn, even half shredded ones. Of course that also goes for grass clippings as well. Which is why I bag everything.
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    Everything is a judgement call and I don't have a property that I could mulch leaves into either. I am assuming good judgement on the part of PW.
    If I could get away with it there are a couple of properties I would like to mulch in the Maple and Poplars, but there are too many pine needles at that time.
    I can't talk them into leaving even the grass clippings in the one large woody area that I mow. It would help build up the soil and conserve moisture, but try and get anyone to believe it :(
  10. LarryF

    LarryF LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,171

    Cyclone rake.

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