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Cleaning Up Leaves The Simple Way

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by ed2hess, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,035

    I have a lawn much like the pics Herler put up. Lots of trees and obstacles and thin/bare turf in many areas in my case. By the time I blow the leaves from the beds and edges and around obstacles, they're really thick on the turf areas. There are rocks and stumps too which can't be seen....just not practical or safe to try to mulch them. Add in a climate with a typically wet fall (often wetter than spring), heavy dew at night and short days, the leaves never really dry out. Mulching wet leaves results in something very similar to wet cardboard. The later it gets in the season the more likely the leaves are to be wet and matted and to stay that way....probably not something that's as much of an issue in Texas.
  2. sven1277

    sven1277 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 636

    If mulching the leaves works for you, then by all means. We know how to do leaves too and know what practices work. As stated, it is easier for us in the northeast to push to the curb and suck up.
  3. Chris Feenan

    Chris Feenan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 60

    Of course, I agree from a horticultural standpoint.

    But the customer wants to see clean when they write the check. And if the leaves "don't disappear", my check may not appear.
  4. recycledsole

    recycledsole LawnSite Gold Member
    from MD
    Posts: 3,233

    thanks for the informative post. its always intresting to hear new useful methods.
    what if the leaves are wet or damp?
    i have an exmark metro 36" with 16hp kawi engine. will that work? i guess if your lawnboy worked that will. Now to find out how to make a mulching plate.
  5. lawnboy dan

    lawnboy dan LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,712

    no i am not talking about using a ztr snapper. the old rear engine rider with the high vac deck for large yards and yes the 21 for med and small yards. i need to post pics for you to see how well this system works .
  6. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,035

    As I mentioned earlier, wet/damp leaves don't mulch very well and you can end up making a mess.

    Your mower should work. You can do it with an open discharge chute and mulching blades such as Gators. Ideally you'd have the mulching kit which has baffles that create a chamber for each blade rather than everything being thrown to the blade on the discharge side, along with a blocking plate.

    On Exmarks, the kits work best with the wavy mulching blades in my experience. You can use the kit with Gator blades but they put out a lot more air and you will then have a problem with leaves blowing out from under the deck.

    The problem with the mulch kit and wavy blades is that now you can't bag without taking the kit and the blocking plate off, which, although not particularly time consuming, isn't very practical.

    A good compromise for you might be to use Gator blades, no mulch kit baffles, and to make a blocking plate that allows air to escape while retaining the cut up leaves long enough to be cut into little pieces. To do this you can cut or drill holes in the blocking plate or make it out of expanded steel...the stuff they make trailer gates out of. You'll just need a couple of bolts to hold it on that could be taken off easily if you do need to discharge or bag.
  7. recycledsole

    recycledsole LawnSite Gold Member
    from MD
    Posts: 3,233

    thanks daryl
  8. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,035

    You're welcome.

    I've even seen homemade blocking plates made out of Hardware Cloth, which is a wire mesh. They also make it in plastic. I wouldn't expect either to hold up for very long, but it's pretty tough stuff...should be easy enough to replace once you figure out have to mount it as well. You could use something like pieces of aluminum from a scrap screen door/window for a frame or to just bolt across to hold it in place. You could even nail it onto pieces of wood with roofing nails and bolt that into your discharge opening.

    BTW, hardware cloth works great if you ever want to make a sieve for sifting top soil or compost or to look for buried treasure.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2012
  9. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,204

    Well you need to take a closer look at the Scag mulching system that amount of leaves would not be a problem. You get out there with those big blowers and fluff everything up and sure it looks like a lot. But you back right across those leaves and they just have to be reduced to dust. It is a lot easier to ride on a ZTR then walking around with 13# backback for a couple hours.
  10. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,035

    Tha'ts your problem...you're trying to use a 13# backpack...you need at least a 25# one!!!!

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