Leaf Mulching

An Impassioned Plea—Mulch Your Leaves

You may have heard it before—rather than blow your leaves away, you’re encouraged to “love ‘em and leave ‘em”—that is, landscapers should use a mulching blade on lawn mowers to chop up the leaves and leave them on the lawn. They should collect some leaves to be spread around plantings, where they disappear quickly into the soil, adding nutrients and providing habitat for pollinators and wildlife.

Benefits of Mulching

  • Leads to healthier soil by adding nutrients and discouraging compacted soil.

  • Helps prevent erosion by absorbing water and allowing it to disperse more slowly.

  • Helps prevent flooding by allowing plants to soak up rainwater; this will become increasingly important as we face more frequent, hard rains due to climate change.

  • Provides habitat for pollinators, in all their life stages, and many other vital creatures.

  • Fewer vehicle trips to pick up and dispose of fall leaves

  • Eliminates the need for leaf blowers, providing a quieter and cleaner environment.

  • Results in fewer leaf piles that spill over onto neighborhood sidewalks and roads.

  • Helps protect water quality in our streams, lakes, and rivers by keeping decomposing leaves out of storm sewers.

  • Reduces labor, time, and materials at both the municipal and the county level which can can help reduce operating budgets.

A small change makes a big difference. Mulching leaves instead of blowing them away may seem like not a big deal, but it has a profound effect on the health of your yard and the creatures that live in it.

Residents and landscapers sometimes say mulching leaves will be too expensive and time consuming, and the result is a messy yard, but homeowners and landscapers who have converted to this practice say the opposite is true. Visit Westchester County's Love 'EM and Leave 'Em site to see benefits, tips, and testimonials.

Ways to Get Started!

  • Find a local landscaper who provides mulching services.

  • Rake whole leaves into wooded margins of your yard for insect and wildlife habitat.

  • Let leaves that fall around plantings stay there, whole and intact, over the winter.

  • Start by leaving mulched leaves on only a small section of your lawn -- you'll be ready to do your entire lawn the next year!

  • If you're still not sure about leaving mulched leaves on your lawn, start by blowing the mulched leaves around just your trees or plantings.