Doesn't mulching leaves turn the soil too acidic? I am leary to just mulch everything(especially oak and maple leaves). Maybe my mower just doesn't chop them up enough. How do your lawns look come the next spring?
There has been a lot or research done on this topic. Done in moderation it has no ill effect on turf or soil quality. Mulching leaves may increase soil microbial activity and earthworm population. I don't know about your mowers, but mine have problems when the leaves get too deep. We rake on them for a while first. Higher blade tip speeds seem to chop them up finer.
Mulching grass give some N/P/K back to the turf but because most of the nutrients in the leaf have migrated back into the tree, there is little fertilization value from mulching leaves.
On the economics ->If you have lots of acres to mow or clean, mulching is the best bet. My client base consists mostly of small residential lawns (5000-10000 ft^2)and trying to sell some of them on mulching is like trying to catch a fart in the wind.
I once thought mulching fall leaves was bad for lawns. I had heard many types of leaves created too much acid and that some created a type of poison for soil. Then I did read what turf care researchers proved.
Mulching is good year round. Leaves do not create an acidic environment, oak leaves do not emit a toxic chemicals. mwhc above put together a really good answer.
I see 2 good points to mulching: 1.) mulching reduces by far the amount of trips you will have to make to your dump site this fall, and 2.) the FINELY shredded leaf particles on the customers' lawns IS of great benefit to the health of the lawn.
If your mower is not chopping them up good, you could get mold. We use lazer 60" with mulch kit and when conditions are dry, the results are unbeleivable. Did this last year and i'm convinced it was beneficial to many lawns. I have a bunch of commercial sites that do no fertilizing or any other supplementing. I'm anxiuos to see those sites in the spring as i beleive they will offer up some good evidence one way or the other.