Mulching Norwegian Maple Leaves

Asked November 21, 2014, 12:52 PM EST

How much mulch can my minimal fescue space tolerate under 60+ year old Norwegian Maples. Need info for committee meetings early next week. I am a K-Club 4 H er. We are in an urban environment. While I support composting and mulching, we will need to cut down our trees if they enforce mulching here. We have mulched grass for some time. Please send me any research you have for this situation and when steep slopes are the property as well. Mulching info is being misapplied.

Westchester County New York

3 Responses

The University of Michigan has been the leader in research of mulching leaves. They have found that mulching up to six inches of leaves is not detrimental to turf grass. Here are some links:

My front fescue is on the thin side, with thick shade and lower moisture content than the back yard. We have minimal space maybe 600 square feet of grass. The rest is a U drive and connection to the garage. We have only 10 ft sides with bushes and a narrow back yard with grass maybe 12-14 feet deep depending on where. Heavy leaf fall from the 2 large Norwegian Maples. Purdue's Ag Dept does not think conditions will allow the grass to survive heavy mulch, but I don't think they have studies. Have you studied max mulch leaf in adverse conditions, or just in normal full sun and normal moisture permitting normal fescue growth? Bedford has larger properties and more space and usually woods nearby than many do in Scarsdale. If this is publish or perish time please be sure to address all kinds of conditions.Although I believe some mulching is beneficial, I have trouble believing in its success in all conditions. On steep hills mulch will wash, bushes and trees will be in the way of mulching on steep slopes and lots of the leaves travel to neighbors compounding their disposal or mulching density problems. Our leaves do not fall evenly through out the fall, and half wait until after Thanksgiving to fall and pile up. Your studies are good for many conditions but not all, so please allow wiggle room for adverse conditions in your recommendations. Your studies will be shared all over the US, so please be thoroughly responsible. The city transplants here have no ag experience and are overly idealistic. Many will just pass it off to their gardeners who speak Spanish.

I am sorry this approach is not working for you. Maybe you want to contact the University of Michigan directly with your suggestions for further research. I personally mulch some of my ample leaves, and use the bagging attachment to move some to my garden beds and under shrubs. It is quite difficult to grow any kind of grass under a Norway Maple, I would just use mulch there. I wish you well.