On a snowy day, I am thinking about mulching lawn mowers

Last spring (our first at the Manse together) Raymond and I raked up a huge rented-van-load of lawn clippings and detritus. To think that a mulching mower could turn a lot of this stuff into instant compost that would be good for that lawn: well, that is food for thought on a cold winter's night.

Last spring (our first at the Manse together) Raymond and I raked up a huge rented-van-load of lawn clippings and detritus. To think that a mulching mower could turn a lot of this stuff into instant compost that would be good for the lawn: well, that is food for thought on a cold winter’s night.

This evening we are having yet another snowstorm in Montreal, which naturally makes me think of lawn maintenance in Queensborough. Oh – you’re not connecting the dots? Well clearly you’re not me. Here’s how it works: snow makes one think of shovelling, which makes one think of the need for a snowblower (which I wrote about here), which makes one think of the need for other noisy lawn/yard maintenance equipment, which leads one to: mulching lawn mowers!

Yes, I know. I had never heard of them either, until this very day. But you know the old saying: you learn something new every day. And I think it may be true.

This morning as I was reading my Montreal Gazette with a cup of coffee, I was most interested to find a letter to the editor on the subject of composting. Reacting to the fact that this city is taking forever to get a citywide composting program set up, the writer was pointing out useful things that individuals can do on their own. The part of the letter (you can read the whole thing here) that particularly caught my eye was this:

… materials that can be successfully “lawn composted” (are) grass clippings and deciduous fall leaves. The right tool for this is the now ubiquitous mulching mower. Research funded by the golf-course industry has shown that both grass clippings and a surprisingly large amount of fall leaves can simply be shredded into turf with no harm to turf quality, but instead, improvement of the soil. This costs less labour than collecting; fall leaves can be shredded into turf in a third the time it would take to rake and bag them, with no demand on the public fisc for hauling and composting and re-hauling the compost to your neighbourhood. In many ways, our old habits are dying hard for no good reason, since this is a method that requires not more work, but less.

Now, you have to understand that as someone who only escaped the tiresome task of raking up a large lawnful of fallen leaves and evergreen needles last fall because our neighbour John Barry (my hero for this) just up and did it for me, I am very intrigued at the idea of just mowing the leaves and turning them into mulch that – bonus! – is good for the soil and thus good for the lawn. And of course it’s the same for grass clippings through the spring and fall. There’s a good piece here, at the site organicgardening.com, about mulching leaves; and you can read here about doing the same with grass clippings.

Already I’ve started looking up mulching mowers at places like Canadian Tire and Home Hardware and Honda. Electric or gas, I wonder? But the thing is, until Raymond and I are able to spend considerably more time at the Manse than we do now, we will continue to rely on John and his riding mower to do our lawn. This mulching thing is for the future.

But I am already excited about it, thinking about a) saving myself some hard labour and b) doing the lawn some good. And c) maybe winning another Queensborough Lawn Maintenance Award!

2 thoughts on “On a snowy day, I am thinking about mulching lawn mowers

  1. Some municipalities even offer small cash incentives for the purchase of mulching blades, presumably to keep clippings out of landfill. When our lawn gets really long and the mower leaves something like hay behind, I use an idea taken from brother Bruce–pile it up around shrubs and trees as mulch. I have zero expertise in all this, by the way…

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