Mulching oak leaves

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by burns60, Jan 28, 2006.

  1. burns60

    burns60 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 291

    I suspect a problem developing from mulching too many oak leaves. It looks like the grass is thinning in the area where I have been mulching them for the past 3 years in the fall.

    I don't notice this where I mulch gum leaves, pine straw, maple leaves or hackberry.

    I know that grass has a hard time living under and around oak trees anyway, but this looks like it is getting worse as time goes by.

    Hoping that some of you soil analytical types could suggest the right mixture of fertilizer for this condition. I probably need to get some fert going before spring gets here, right?

    I would sure hate to have to quit mulching, but am open for some help.

    CLARK LAWN LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,526

    take a soil test probably very acidic from mulching leaves
  3. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    I would not recommend mulching Oak leaves onto a lawn at all.If I did it would be Oak leaves very well aged and composted.Mulch and compost are two very different things so if you think you are making Oak leaves into compost for useing on a lawn when you have it all wrong.
    Oak leaves are full of Tanin acid and will damage grass.
    also if it is thick,like it sounds like it will kill the grass.
    Rake it off the lawn,and mulch your leaves into a compost pile where they can properly break down with other organic matter you add and then use it on your lawn after a year or more.Do a search on composting yard waste.
  4. dKoester

    dKoester LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,395

    See how thick the debris is that was left behind for those three years. Then take an earth moving rake and get up as much as possible. Next take an aerator and aerate the area that had the debris. Lime and seed no fertilizer. Never fertilize and lime at the same time. Chemical bondage. It is better to wait till the lime is in the soil slowly getting absorbed Then fertilize and put down iron. And don't put down to much iron it will lower the ph of the soil.
  5. The Captain

    The Captain LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 607

    sheshovel has the answer covered. My property is completly covered with oaks of various types. Every year I used to mulch the leaves and thought nothing about it. Between the acidic leaf mulch and the acorns, I have (had) a terrible looking lawn. (Not very good advertising for me.) I now bag my leaves. Yes, believe me I know, it's too much work, but I see what the results have been. I'm adding lime several times a year now, at reduced rates, overseeding and fertilizing. It seems to be helping. I actually have turf that is green again.

    The oak leaves are the only ones I've had serious problems with and thankfully it was on my lawn.

    Check the ph levels across the lawn and act accordingly. Good luck....

  6. Pecker

    Pecker LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,454

    I mow one that has two 100+ year old huge Oaks in the back. I've been mulching them for years and the St. Augustine doesn't seem to mind. Perhaps different turf varieties react differently to Oak leaves?
  7. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    my thougths exactly. Also have the trees been thinned properly, because if not, what you might be experiencing is shade decline. We get a lot of that here.

    Then again with our constant warm temps and humidity, we our leaves must decay faster.
  8. burns60

    burns60 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 291

    Thanks to all for the help and advice. Pretty much what I had expected.

    Ms She Shovel,,,,,,, "rake it off the yard." I know you are right, but that just ain't gonna happen. I am past the "age of raking", and no, I'm not trying to compost, just trying to get rid of these dang leaves the quickest and easiest way. Guess I'll have to put a catcher on the Exmark.
  9. Hermanator

    Hermanator LawnSite Member
    Messages: 223

    Add some lime after your done mulching. You don't need a bunch, but it really makes a difference.
  10. gaither

    gaither LawnSite Member
    Messages: 41

    I am dealing with same problem. The most frustrating thing is I have found Oaks are the hardest to blow up using backpacks and push blowers. But the most frustrating thing is they fall so late it is usually the most windy part of the season in early and late Jan.

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