EDMONTON – Large trees with massive canopies line the streets of Edmonton’s mature neighbourhoods. Raking all those leaves takes time, bags and determination to finish the task.
“You start off raking, everything is looking good and either the wind picks up, or the kids are out playing in the leaves,” said Nathan VanDriel, from his west Edmonton yard, “and all of a sudden your pile that was nice and contained is all of a sudden covering three quarters of your lawn and you have to start from scratch.”
He admits that while it’s not impossible, with a 16-month-old daughter and other jobs around the house, his raking was left half done.
The sound of a lawn mower evokes memories of warm summer days – but at the end of October, it can also evoke visions of a lusher, weed-free lawn.
Researchers at Michigan State University think that mulching your leaves and leaving them on your lawn could do just that.
Instead of raking and bagging, they suggest running your lawn mower without the grass trap over a moderately leaf-covered lawn. Then, apply a nitrogen-based fertilizer to that area before the snow falls.
In their research, the MSU experts found that after one year, all of the patchy areas on their lawns had filled in. After three years, there was a 100 per cent reduction in weeds.
Jim Hole at Hole’s Greenhouses in St. Albert is a proponent of traditional composting, and fall time leaf mulching.
After mulching, “what you’re left with is a fairly nutrient rich leaf material that will offset the amount of fertilizer that you need to apply in the spring and summer,” he explained.
Though he does admit that not everyone likes the way it looks.
“So you have to shift your thinking on that,” Hole continued. “You don’t want to put down too thick of a layer, but a nice thin layer, maybe a couple centimetres or so, of that chopped up material is the way to go.”
Back at the VanDriel residence, they’re not too concerned with the aesthetics, so they’re giving it a try.
The only opponent is little Lindon, who had a fit of tears and screamed “no piles!” upon hearing there would be no more mounds of leaves.
“Yeah, a little less fun for the kids, there’s no big pile of leaves any more,” laughed VanDriel.