MLB.com Digital Academy Instructional of the Week – November 11
By Dr. Amy Enfield, Ph.D
It’s great to have big shade trees surrounding your ball field. But, come fall, you can start to resent them. Those big trees drop leaves and that means extra work, hassle, and lost time. However, there’s good news. Forget about raking, blowing, and bagging leaves. Instead, just mulch the leaves with your lawn mower and then follow up by feeding the grass. It’ll save you work, improve the soil, and add nutrients.
When you rake your leaves, it costs you. Your local taxes pay for trucks to sweep up your leaves or pick up your filled yard bags, which sometimes end up in landfills. If you burn leaves, you’re sending up clouds of carbon into the atmosphere. Mulching leaves simply recycles a natural resource, giving you richer soil for free.
Take the grass catcher off your mower, and mow over the leaves covering your outfield. You want to mulch your leaf clutter into dime-size pieces. You’ll know you’re done when about half an inch of grass can be seen through the mulched leaf layer. Any kind of rotary-action or mulching mower will do the job, and any kind of leaves can be chopped up. With several passes of your mower, you can mulch up to 18 inches of leaf clutter into nice, fine pieces.
Once the leaf bits settle, microbes and worms get to work recycling them. The soil microbes will do a better job recycling carbon from leaves if they have nitrogen. Feeding your outfield after mulching your leaves with Scotts® Turf Builder® WinterGuard® Fall Lawn Food not only feeds the grass, but it will also provide microbes with the nitrogen they need to break down your mulched leaves faster. So your grass will grow better, and your microbes will work harder, when you feed your lawn after mulching.
When spring arrives, the leaf litter you mulched up in the fall will have disappeared. Your rake will look dusty and neglected. And your outfield will look greener than ever.
Dr. Amy Enfield is a contributing writer for MLB.com Digital Academy and has been with The Scotts Company since 2012. She has a split role as a digital marketing content specialist and a product knowledge expert with the Scotts Training Institute®. Amy received her BS and MS in Horticulture from Michigan State University and her PhD in Plant & Environmental Science from Clemson University.