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Chemical for leaves

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Don32, Nov 5, 2006.

  1. Don32

    Don32 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    Is there a chemical out there to spread on leaves to break them down faster without harming other plants? Its nice to blow into the neigboring woods but they pile up over time.

  2. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    Probably not, except lime. I can tell you this, though....The more they are ground up and cut up, the faster they will break down into dirt.
  3. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    Over the years I have not disagreed with you very often. However this is one case were I will disagree. Nitrogen will aid in the decomposition of organic matter better than Lime. Composting or decomposition of organic matter is a function of Microbial and Microbial population is increased by Nitrogen. It has been too long since I studied Microbiology so I am not going to try an explain the composting process.

    BTW Urea and not Ammonium Nitrate is a better form of nitrogen for composting. Ammonium Nitrate is up taken by plants quicker than Urea. Urea must first be converted to NO3 or Ammonium Nitrate by microbial action before it is up taken by plants.
  4. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    This couldn't be more true. I was thinking more along the lines if the N content was already there...especially if the nitrogen/carbon level ratios are in line (where they should be). Additional nitrogen DOES expedite the breakdown of the materials, though...especially if other materials are added that can increase the carbn ratio to much higher rates per nitrogen (things like paper, wood, sawdust, etc.). I don't remember the rates anymore, but it seems like the optimum ratios were like 30:1, or something like that. It's been awhile, though! :rolleyes:
    Oh, as far us being in agreement with each other? I can tell you this; For wisdom and knowledge, you have probably FORGOTTEN more than I KNOW (or ever learned)lol:)
  5. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    Bacterial inoculants are offered (PHC's DeThatch for instance) that are formulated to break down organic matter. But like Ric says, they also benefit from a "green element" or Nitrogen to really fuel the fire. It's all about the Carbon to Nitrogen ratio. This all assumes the leaves are in an effective windrow or pile that foster heat containment for composting. Just blowing leaves into the forest edge then spraying them with a cocktail isn't going to make them disappear.

    The best compost piles are large enough to contain heat & have a combination of green grass clipping (Nitrogen) & brown leaves (Carbon) but try finding both at the same time this time of year.
  6. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    Covering the Leaf Pile with Black Plastic will help contain the heat as well. If you really want to cook the N to C ratio, Place old beer or soda cans on top of the Black Plastic and Clear plastic over it to form an air lock to hold the heat in.

    Dry Leafs or Grass clipping will also decompose much quicker than wet. But this has to do more with right environment for Microbes. Wet Leafs will not heat up as fast as Dry.

    BTW Good to see you posting now and again. I always enjoyed giving you a hard time about Agronomy :D We had some good go rounds about 5 years ago. Hope things are well with you and yours.
  7. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    I am gonna throw in my smart a$$ comment on the subject. The chemical that I use for leaves is IRON.

    Three iron Atomic blades.
    Sorry for the snyde reply but I couldn't justify applying a chemical to something that would take care of itself in time or could be expedited by me grinding them to bits.
    My solution to the authors problem would be to gather the leaves just short of the woods edge and grind the hell out of them. I don't care if the piles are 4 feet high. They will reduce to 6 inches of dust and pieces. They are easily blown into the woods in a form as close to dirt as you can get. By next spring you will be hard pressed to find evidence of any leaves or debris as winter will break it down to its original elemental state. I am not a tree hugger by any means and this method has worked extremely well for me. Its nice to explore all options but in this case a chemical solution is really not anywhere near the best one.

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