Leaf removal info you might like? Take it or leaf it....

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by razor1, Dec 8, 2006.

  1. razor1

    razor1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,985

    I saved this article from 11/04 to calm any customer fears about mulching leaves. Luckily, I've never needed it.
    I hardly ever pick up leaves anymore. Although I did, using Vacs, truckloaders, dump trucks etc. And my leaf removal prices stayed the same or went up!

    Mulch Leaves into Lawns, Studies Say By The Associated Press 11/22/2004 Mike Goatley is the kind of guy we couch potatoes appreciate most on football-rich fall afternoons. The Virginia Tech extension turf specialist preaches the gospel of "leave them alone" lawn leaf management.
    There’s nothing wrong with blowing, vacuuming or raking downed leaves - especially if you’re trying to spot errant golf balls or keep your grass from being matted down over winter. Disposal is the problem.
    "One of the biggest things we’re trying to get away from is putting these things in bags and dumping them in a landfill," Goatley says. "At the same time, you’re improving the organic matter in your soil."
    The technique has been used for years, he says. But "there’s quite a bit of data out there now (from Purdue, Michigan State and Cornell universities) indicating this is the way to manage those leaves."
    In other words, crank up your mulching-capable lawn mower first when the leaves start piling up in autumn.
    A Purdue University report details the responses of a perennial ryegrass lawn to the addition of as much as two tons of maple leaves per acre per application.
    Mowing the leaves into fine pieces and filtering them through the turf doesn’t degrade lawn color or quality, introduce diseases or weeds, the report says. Over time, the shredded leaves decompose, enriching the topmost soil layers.
    Mower mulching also saves time and money that would be unnecessarily spent on bagging and dumping. Composting leaves directly into the turf doesn’t mean you should stop fertilizing, however.
    "I don’t think leaf recycling is a substitute for a sound fertilizing program," Goatley says. "Mother Nature has already removed a lot of nitrogen from those leaves. The microbes needed to further break them down also need some nitrogen.
    "Fall fertilization of cold-season grass definitely is the way to go. You can still reap some lawn care benefits with a November nitrogen application."
    Applying shredded leaves to your lawn does not alter its underlying soil chemistry, researchers say.
    "The deciduous leaves coming off trees have been shown to have a minimal effect on soil pH," Goatley says. "What could make a difference, though, is pine straw (layers of pine needles). That’s acidic. The needles also don’t break down very quickly."
    Grass height depends upon the species, but two to three inches is good for this time of year.
    "An advantage to maintaining your mowing schedule into the down time of winter is that the leaves continue filtering down," Goatley says. "You can’t completely pulverize them, but they will settle down into the grass and become organic matter."
    While you should always think safety when mowing your lawn, that goes double when leaf-mulching. Wear safety goggles and an air mask, Goatley says. Don’t use your mower for branch-shredding or stump-grinding. Sharpen the mower blade and change the air filter more often when mulching thick layers of leaves.
    "Walk the area and pick up whatever branches and debris have come off with the leaves," Goatley says. "The leaves should be on the dry side so they pulverize a little better, but then that means dust.
    "You should also think about who’s out there, including pets. You can’t have anyone or anything nearby while you’re running the risk of throwing sticks or any debris buried beneath the leaves."
    Monday, November 22, 2004:walking:
     
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    No problem, except:

    - Explain that to my customers, sell them weekly mulching for 8-12 weeks at a cost of $35-$45 / service = 280 - 540 dollars.
    -> For all of them except the ones who need them hauled, this is considerably more than what they pay now.
    - Pay for the extra wear and tear on the mulcher that was not designed for this.
    First the blades get very dull in short time thus frustrating the method, but also the fine debris gets into everything, an especially tricky situation on a Walk-behind where most bearings are not sealed.
    - Pay for the $1,000 battery powered respirator needed to prevent the resulting fine dust from entering your lungs, which can in turn kill you or at the very least, make you sick as a dog.

    However, I do agree that bagging leaves is the dumbest thing one could do.
    Leaves are organic matter that will decompose, but the bags are not.
    So, dump them in the woods OR the landfill but without the stupid bags.
     
  3. razor1

    razor1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,985

    Re; Topsites, "No Problem"
    Thanks for the response.
    As far as selling this service, I don't know your circumstance or your customers. But, if it accomplishes the same objective, why shouldn't they pay the same price?
    My equipment was designed to handle this task. (Kubota, Exmark, Toro, Scag, Hustler) Granted, breathing leaf dust may be harmful. In my experience, there is no more wear and tear than if I had vacuumed or bagged the leaves, (for man or machine). Of course you must maintain all equipment and personal saftey gear, for all conditions that apply. I'm sorry, if this is a problem. Good Luck!
     
  4. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,315

    This idea works just fine...everybody in our area uses the technique. Customers don't see any spike in lawn care cost/mo. due to a big leaf cleanup and they understand the need to continue mowing because they see the leaves in place. In our area the leaves start falling in October and continues into February.
     
  5. LawnMowerKing10

    LawnMowerKing10 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 831

    i have an e z chute on my z master i discharge alot ,but when there is leaves and the customer did not order a leaf removal . then When there is a ton of leaves i mulch um.
     
  6. parkeeee

    parkeeee LawnSite Member
    Posts: 227

    I have always mulched. Be it at work, at home or on my accounts. In the parks there is no way possible to bag leaves just by the shear acreage we have.
     
  7. LawnMowerKing10

    LawnMowerKing10 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 831

    i also mow alot of hoa's and sports field it would take to long to blow them then cll in the truck with the vaccum
     
  8. LawnMowerKing10

    LawnMowerKing10 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 831

    call* them
     
  9. MowerMoney

    MowerMoney LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 282

    Where can I get some data on how bad the leaf dust is for your lungs?
    I believe it but I would like to see some supporting medical data.
    Thanks.
     
  10. DBL

    DBL LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,219

    i cant see charging the same amount for mulching compared to a full removal plus they look a lot better when removed
     

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