Mulching or Raking: What’s the Best Option for Your Lawn

It’s Fall! Which means dead leaves and branches have begun to fall from trees and other foliage has started to dry up and wilt. So what do you do with all this debris? You have two main options to deal with the debris in your yard: either use a rake to gather up the leaves that have covered your yard or use the mulching function on your mower and turn that waste into organic fertilizer for your yard and garden.


Raking is the tried and true, time tested yard cleaner. While it may be more time intensive (and a little harder on the back) it is a great way to rid your yard of fallen debris. It allows you access to hard-to-reach areas in your yard, and is delicate on new grass or in garden beds. Not to mention, it’s a serious calorie-burner.

One of the biggest drawbacks of raking comes from what you do after you’ve gathered all those leaves. Most people end up either bagging their leaves and dropping them off at the landfill or leaving them in the streets for city workers to sweep up. The problem with both of these is it leads to unnecessary waste, takes a lot of time, and you’re missing out on some pretty great, free nutrients for your yard and garden.

Mow and Mulch

Mulching your leaves is a great alterative to raking. It’s a time and back saver, and can add extra nutrients to your lawn.

How to Mulch:

To mulch, simply change the setting on your mower (typically there will be an actual “mulch” setting) and then follow the same pattern you would when cutting the lawn. The leaves won’t kick out to the side and will instead be left on your yard finely chopped.

When to Mulch:

One important thing to note: don’t let the leaves pile up too much before mulching. If you don’t keep up and there are too many leaves, the mower will have trouble cutting through the thick pile and the thick layer of shredded mulch can suffocate the lawn preventing water, sun and nutrients from penetrating the soil. A good rule of thumb is going over your lawn once per week. Additionally, leaves shred most efficiently when slightly damp, so mow after a light dew, typically in the morning before the sun evaporates it or in the early evening..

What to do with Mulch:

You can either leave it atop your lawn or collect them to spread in your planting beds or add them to your compost pile. If you plan to let them cover your lawn all winter, make sure it’s evenly spread out and not too deep so it doesn’t become compacted under snow. You can also take some of your excess mulch to cover your planting beds and around the roots of trees to keep them warm throughout the cool season. Any way you use your mulch, come spring, your lawn and garden will thank you.

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