An educational initiative to inform homeowners and landscapers about the many advantages of mulching leaves on site. We're Bedford-based, but our message is universal. Join us – and Leave Your Leaves Alone!  

Want a landscaper who mulches-in-place? Find one on Landscapers Who Mulch.
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We're very proud to say that Leave Leaves Alone was the recipient of two awards in 2012. See stories about the Earth Day Award from Westchester County and a Green Award  from Bedford's Conservation Board.

Leaf mulching demonstrations & consultations are available on request. email: leaveleavesalone@gmail.com

A Few Ways to Mulch and Compost Your Leaves

There is no ONE right way to deal with your leaves, and methods vary by site, volume of leaves,
and garden features. Here are some commonly recommended methods for homeowners. Landscapers have access
to specialized equipment that is even more efficient.  


Not a fan of the mowing idea? Go ahead, rake! Pile the leaves somewhere where they won’t be disturbed and leave them alone. It’s best to put them in a spot where they are not too sheltered, as the pile needs to get wet occasionally. After about two years or less, you’ll have rich, crumbly compost, about 1/20 the size of the orIginal leaf pile, ready to add to your flower beds or around your shrubs. You don't have to use the compost; you can just ignore  and leave it where it is. Deluxe Electric Leaf Shredder


To make your pile decompose more quickly, you could shred the leaves with either a leaf shredder (see photo at right), or a push chipper/ shredder (below), which is more expensive, but able to also handle twigs and small branches. You can also pass over leaves with a lawn mower, or put them in a garbage bin and mulch them with a weed whacker. This is really good when you don’t have much space as it will reduce the volume of your leaf pile to about one tenth of its original size. This also speeds up decomposition: if you do this in the fall, you can expect to have compost by about July.

Twin Wooden Compost Bin


So you like things to be nice and tidy? No problem. Build a container and compost them. The container can be either with wooden pallets or a ring of chicken wire, and rake or blow your leaves into it. They won’t be able to blow around and will slowly decompose and turn into compost. When it’s ready, remove the compost and use it in your garden and wait for next fall to top up the container.

There are some leaf vacuums that actually work, and work well! They also shred at the same time and allow you to gather the leaves, shred them, and then add them to a compost pile, or place them onto perennial beds and around shrubs as protective mulch, which decomposes and enriches the soil. This is especially good for smaller properties.


Shred the leaves into small pieces and return them to your flowerbeds as mulch for winter protection. If they haven’t broken down by spring, remove them (piling them in a compost pile) to allow any tender plants to emerge or leave them and they’ll keep weeds down in the growing season.


Although it’s better to mulch your leaves, and leave the chopped up leaves on your lawn and flower beds so they can enrich your soil, you can just rake or blow your leaves into the woods – if you have woods. The trees, from which the leaves fell, will thank you as their soil is nourished by the decomposing leaves breaking down into compost, just as nature intended. Make sure to keep leaves off footpaths so that you don't have to walk through them if you take a walk through the woods. 

This fall, remember,

Leave Leaves Alone!



Undoubtedly, the easiest way to get rid of leaves is to mow them into your lawn. You can do this with a regular mower, especially if the leaves are dry, but a mulcher-mower works better. Watch the video. And there are plenty more leaf mulching videos on You Tube. Everyone's doing it! 

These leaves were mowed with a Neutron electric mower - one pass. You can catch the leaves in the mower bag and compost them or just let the mulched leaves fall on the lawn, where they will decompose, improving the soil.

It doesn’t matter how thick the leaf layer is, you just might have to go over it more than once. If you mow weekly, one pass will probably be fine. The chopped up leaves fall between the grass blades, decompose and nourish the soil. No need for lawn fertilizer, no need for raking!  

Landscapers and more serious gardeners switch the blades on their lawnmowers to special mulching blades (available online – called ‘Gators). These shred the leaves VERY effectively. Switching a lawnmower blade is really easy and the mulching gators usually cost less than $20 depending on your mower type. 

Mowing leaves can reduce their volume tenfold, as these photos illustrate. Leaves on lawns can be mown right into the lawn. Leaves on driveways can be mown and blown back onto perennial beds, around shrubs, or onto lawns.

Wondering About the Leaves On Your Perennial Beds?

Pull or blow fallen leaves off perennial beds, piling them in rows and then mow the rows. The volume is reduced by x10 and the remaining mulch can be replaced on the beds where they will break down forming a protective winter layer and then gradually turn into compost, enriching your soil.

There is no need to remove leaves from robust plants like pachysandra, unless you need to do so for aesthetic reasons. In which case, remove the leaves, mulch them with a shredder or mower, and blow or rake the mulch back onto the pachysandra.

Print Out Leaf Mulching Tips

One page leaf-mulching tips in Spanish
One page leaf-mulching tips in English
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