Should you rake leaves or mulch them?

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Autumn represents the return of a chore many dread: raking leaves.

Raking can be good exercise and a way to get out some frustration, but it also can be tiring as well and can a lengthy process. Many homeowners choose to skip the back-breaking work and mulch.

Related: Fall leaves shows their true colors

Mulching is less labor intensive than raking, blowing and bagging leaves. As the shredded leaves decompose they also add nutrients to the soil.

However, James Newburn, the University of Tennessee Gardens Assistant Director, says if you have too much mulch you may be doing more harm than good. “You want to chop those leaves up because you don’t want to smother the grass and if you have so many leaves that you’re going to have a thick layer of these crushed up leaves you want to kind of step away from that as well,” he said.

If a mulch layer becomes thicker than a quarter inch, it may smothe rthe grass or cover it so much that light doesn’t get to the grass blades. If you use a rotary mower, you may also need to make multiple passes to shred leaves.

“Make it so it’s just fine enough that it gets down between the blades of grass that is really going to help,” said Newburn.

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