I try to find the easiest way to do something. Taking care of leaves in the fall is no exception. I use my mower (not a mulching mower) and mulch them into my lawn or I put the bag on and pick them up for the compost pile. My self-propelled mower is much easier than a rake. My wife and I do rake the leaves from the lilac hedge and other shrubs, and my wife rakes the leaves from her flower garden. These we gather up for the compost pile.      Mulching grass in the summer or leaves in the fall does not increase thatch. Remember, thatch in you lawn is caused by over fertilization, over watering, and mowing your grass too short. The best way to prevent thatch and have a healthy lawn is to core aerate at least once per year, do not over fertilize, irrigate only when necessary, and mow your grass 2 1/2” to 3 1/2” year around.

          Chopping up the leaves with your mower and putting them back into your lawn is beneficial, according to a study done by Michigan State University turfgrass specialists, and supported by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension turfgrass specialists. You do not want to put them on too thick, and you may want to go over them more than once so they are finely chopped. If you can’t see the green grass or most of it, they are too thick. Even oak tree leaves chopped up fine are beneficial.

          After the trees have dropped all of their leaves and you have mowed for the last time this fall, it is important to put on a good, slow release winter fertilizer. The nitrogen in the fertilizer helps to break down the chopped leaves and grass. If you are only going to fertilize twice a year, both should be in the fall. Remember, heavy fertilization in the spring puts stress on the grass that has been dormant all winter. Over fertilization in the spring causes disease and insect problems later in the year. Also, the more you fertilize in the spring, the more you have to water, and the more you have to mow.

Your fall fertilizer should have been put on around Labor Day, and then put on your winter fertilizer between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Winter fertilizer should be higher in potash (the last number) than regular fertilizer and contain at least 40% of slow release nitrogen. Two years ago I didn’t get mine on until about Thanksgiving since we had a very long fall. The day after you put your mower to bed, put on your winter fertilizer. 

          If you don’t want to mulch your lawn, you can put the catcher on and bag the chopped leaves. These can be tilled into your garden or added to your compost pile, or used as mulch over your roses and other plants.  Chopped leaves break down faster in the compost pile and do not mat when used around your rose bushes or other perennials. From the mower bag directly to the compost pile or garden also saves on plastic bags or paper bags. PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT!!!

          If you don’t want to use your mower at all, the next alternative is to (1) rake your leaves, spread them out over the vegetable garden, and till them in, or (2) put them in the compost pile. Do not put un-chopped leaves on your roses or use as mulch on other plants as they usually will mat down and therefore are not as beneficial. 

          As a last resort put the leaves in a paper bag and send them to your city compost recycling. These leaves and grass clippings end up as good compost after two years. In the spring and summer this good compost is usually available free of charge or for a small price. RECYCLE THOSE LEAVES!!!  

          For more information on how to make a compost pile that is clean and healthy go to “” and look for compost information. Or go to “”.  In the search box type “compost” and numerous publications will be available for downloading and printing.


Copyright 2010






          Did you have trouble with Crabgrass this summer? Did you have trouble with Yellow Nutsedge this summer? Bonide now has a product called “Prozone Weedbeater Complete” that prevents the germination of Crabgrass seed in the spring and suppresses the germination of the Yellow Nutsedge nutlets. A pre-emergence application put on at the right time will also control or suppress the germination of Chickweed, Foxtail, Knotweed, numerous Sedges, Pigweed, Purslane, Speedwell, Prostrate Spurge, and Goosegrass. For some of these weeds, especially Goosegrass, Foxtail, and Spurge that germinates later, control and suppression will be enhanced by a second application 6 to 8 weeks after the first. Pre-emergence products are usually applied to the lawn around the 15th of April in Eastern and South Central Nebraska, and the second application about the last week of May or the first week of June .

          This product in addition to pre-emergence also has some post-emergence control or suppression of the growth of Black medic, chickweed, clover, dandelion, curly dock, ground ivy, henbit, golden rod, mallow, pigweed, puncture weed, purslane, wild garlic, spurge, wild onion, and wild garlic when applied as directed.

          The active ingredients in “Prozone Weedbeater Complete” are prodiamine (found in Barricade), and sulfentrazone (found in Dismiss). Barricade is a very good pre-emergence product and has the longest residual (about 90 days) of any turfgrass pre-emergence. Sulfentrazone is also a pre-emergence and has some post-emergence qualities that has been used in agriculture and now is being used on turfgrass.

          Bonide makes this product with and without fertilizer. Next Spring check with your favorite full service garden center and see if they have this product. Sulfentrazone is the only product I know that will suppress the germination of the Yellow Nutsedge. All the other products, including Sedge Hammer are post-emergence products and will control the growth of the nutsedge if applied at the right time. Get on top of your Crabgrass, nutsedge, and other turf weeds early next year and buy a quality product that has season long control.

          A big thank you to Roch Gaussoin , PhD , for reviewing and editing these articles. He is Cyril Bish Professor of Horticulture, and Extension Turfgrass Specialist.

Copyright 2010