Leaf Mulching

Tips and Information on Leaf Mulching

Why Mulch Leaves?

  • Soil Enrichment: Leaf mulch returns nutrients back to the soil. Your lawn and gardens will require less fertilizer and other additives.
  • Water Conservation: Leaf mulch helps retain moisture in soils. When soil is covered with leaf mulch, the mulch lowers the soil's exposure to sun and wind which reduces evaporation.
  • Banned from Landfill: If yard waste is found in regular garbage sent to Wisconsin landfills, the entire load of garbage can be rejected at a significant cost to regional taxpayers.
  • Saves Money: By managing your leaves on your property, you reduce the need for leaf collection services at Public Works. 
  • Insulation: Mulch acts like an insulating barrier from the heat in the summer, from the cold in the winter and from the wind all year round. Mulch prevents compaction and erosion of soils from wind and rain.
  • Weed Control: Leaf mulch can help prevent the growth of weeds. Add a thick layer (2 to 3 inches) to gardens to reduce the need for herbicides.

Leaf Mulching Tips:

  • Keep your mower blade sharp.
  • Set your mower blade to 2.5 inches high.
  • Mow leaves when dry to prevent clumping.
  • Push lawnmower slowly to give mower time to chop up leaves.
  • Mow leaves when there is no more than 1 inch of leaf litter.
  • When adding mulch to gardens, do not put mulch right up to the base of plants or trees and make the mulch no deeper than 2 to 3 inches.
  • If your lawnmower bags yard waste, either remove the bag to spread mulch evenly over the lawn, or use the bagged mulch where necessary around trees, shrubs and gardens.
  • You may be able to convert your mower to a mulching mower by purchasing a mulching blade retrofit kit which is available at hardware stores and garden centers; mulching blades chop up leaves many times, producing very small leaf pieces.
  • If you use a lawn service, ask them to leaf mulch.

What you can do with Leaf Mulch:

  • Leave it on your lawn: Use your lawnmower to chop up leaves and leave the pieces on your lawn. It is important to make sure leaf pieces are small enough to let light get through to your grass. This may require you to mow twice where there is a lot of leaf litter.
  • Dig leaves into your garden: Dig leaves directly into your garden to add organic matter and nutrients to the soil.
  • Use leaves as mulch: Put leaf mulch on gardens and flower beds and around trees and shrubs.