So, I have basically shifted into reverse from where I was last year at this time. If you remember, I got a rear bagger for my John Deere X300. The reason I got the bagger was to suck up all the leaves that fall off the trees. Just to let you know, it does a great job. Last year, this lawn was spotless.
A funny thing happened over the Summer. I did a lot of work in the woods. As I was working, I kept walking over these really soft and fertile areas of ground. At times, I would push the top layer of mulched leaves (this is the area I dumped all the leaves I picked up last year) just to see what was going on. Each time I pushed the leaves off the dirt, I would find this beautiful black soil. I was astounded. The leaves that I had dumped in the woods last year had composted and turned into nutrient packed soil. And, this soil was chock full of worms. You should see it. Maybe tomorrow I will take a picture of it. The worms are HUGE.
So what I have been doing rather slowly over the past few weeks is to dig up the compost and sift it into the wheelbarrow. Then, I go out to various parts of the yard and toss the compost all over the place. From what I hear, that’s good for the lawn. It is a lot of work though.
Let me tell you what has happened since I started using the bagger. I mowed and bagged and mowed and bagged. About half way through the Summer, I had this nagging suspicion that something was wrong. I kept asking myself this question – If I keep sucking up all the grass clippings and leaves, where the heck is the lawn going to get any organic materials from? I did some research and pretty much came to the conclusion that I was removing all the goodness from the lawn soil. They call “soil” with no nutrients in it “dirt.” I tend to trust my conclusion because there are parts of the lawn that are really green and lush. Those parts have better soil than the parts that are all burnt out looking. The dry grass areas have dirt that is really hard and inhospitable for growing grass.
As much as I am outside fiddling around, I do really try to cut the work load down to a minimum. I love working, but I’m not dumb. With that in mind, I did a little thinking and figured that it was foolish to suck up leaves, dump them in the woods, wait for them to break down and then dig up the compost to spread on the lawn. Why not just mulch the leaves and grass clippings right there on the lawn? I did all sorts of research on this idea and it seems to be the wave of the future. Or, at least what people have been doing since the dawn of time, before we all turned into a bunch of pansies and had to have perfectly manicured lawns. Sometimes I just shake my head and wish I was the way I used to be.
When I was a kid, do you know what my father used to say to me when the grass was getting tall? He said, “Get out there and mow the lawn.” I don’t think I ever responded, “But father, what about this month’s application of fertilizer.” We’ve been brainwashed.
Anyway, I figured that all I needed to begin my leaf and grass clipping mulching program was a mulching kit from John Deere. I could have simply mowed over the leaves with what I had (the side discharge chute), but it took a lot of extra time trying to “catch” the leaves. The air coming out from the lawn mower deck blew them all over the place. With a mulching lawn mower deck, the leaves are more contained and a lot of time is saved by not having to drive around in circles all day.
Let me show you some pictures of the mulching kit parts and setup.
The pictures really don’t do this mulch kit justice because there weren’t a lot of leaves on the ground. I basically just wanted to try the mower out. Today, I used my leaf blower to blow out this woodsy area we have. I made a pretty substantial pile of leaves. I rode over it with the mulching deck a few times and you can hardly even tell there were any leaves there. Amazing. I am looking forward to a season full of leaves on the ground that I don’t have to pick up anymore. I am also looking forward to a future with better soil conditions so the grass grows nice and thick.