Customer: "Why shouldn't I just use my leaves as mulch?"

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by Century Landscape, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. Century Landscape

    Century Landscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 87

    Anyone been asked that one a time or two?

    Everyone has their own selling style and useful pointers. What kind of response have you found to work well for selling a mulch job in this scenario?

    First thoughts that come to my mind -

    #1 Obvious cosmetic reasons
    #2 Leaves are just going to blow around all over your yard and make a mess anyway
    #3 Leaves aren't going to give you the same insulating factor or as good of moisture control as mulch

    I know I've read that oak leaves are more likely to contribute to acidic conditions as they break down. Aren't leaves more likely to be a breeding grounds for insects and diseases also? I know for pet owners, ticks favorite habitat is fallen leaves.

    Thanks for responses, it's always great to have a few new ideas for converting objections to sales.
  2. rob7233

    rob7233 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 870

    Yes, leaves are are vector for pests and diseases. The best place for leaves is the compost pile where the heat of decomposition can kill off these pests etc and render it into something beneficial for the plants. This new organic material supplies beneficial microorganisms that help utilize and breakdown substances into a form that the plants can now readily use.

    Also piled up, damp leaves under shrubs can be a great place to harbor fungal outbreaks too. It too all breaks down over time but will take Nitrogen from whatever source available (fert applied, from soil near the plant etc.) to fuel the microbial process.

    So, one answer to the objection is they are wasting money when they fert the shrubs, since those piled up leaves will take up N to decompose the leaves. Plus, those leaves are a vector for pests and diseases. It can take years to develop a nice hedge row and just a short while to see it die from a fungal infection etc. Not to mention the additional cost chemical treatments in the effort and stress and decline to the plants.

    Also, another thought is, if the leaves where piled too high near the plant base (especially with mulch on top of that), the plant would have little O2 exchange at it's base roots. This also applies for improperly done mulch jobs, volcano mulching etc. I've had HO that didn't like my estimate and decided to do their own mulch work. Well, I certainly made up my loss a year later, by replacing trees and shrubs they killed when they buried them under the extra mulch "they didn't know what to do with". :clapping:

    I hope there is something here you might be able to use. It's early and I don't feel I'm thinking quite straight...
  3. Century Landscape

    Century Landscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 87

    Great info! I'd never heard that the microbial process would rob N from the ornamentals.
  4. freddyc

    freddyc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 578

    Probably depends on the plant but I'm in the Northeast and have a 20 yr old row of arborvities. They grow like crazy every year. I use nothing but oak leaves around them and by all accounts, they love it. This has been going on for 15 years. If looks were an issue I wouldn't do it but they are not in a highly traveled area. In addition there's very little sun where they are. And yes, oaks will promote an acid soil.
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    The South is different from the North in the treatment of leaves.

    Leaves make great mulch if they are shredded into the lawn with a mower but will kill the grass through suffocation if allowed to sit naturally. Leaves make good mulch over time, in shrubbery, and though they may be problematic the first year b4 they break down, in subsequent years they form the perfect growing habitat.

    If the Southern heat and humidity of of such a nature as to promote harmful microbial growth, watch it closely...

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