From the FAQ Vault – It’s officially Autumn … I hate raking. What do you recommend I do with these tree leaves laying around on my grass?

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Public Domain Photo by Charles Rondeau

Autumn Dry Leaves (Public Domain Photo) by Charles Rondeau

In the past few weeks, we’ve gotten quite a few phone calls about tree leaves.

People are asking, “Should they be kept on the grass, removed completely, or mulched?”

Some of these calls were from customers with newly installed sod, others have sod that was installed a while ago, and still others were calling about their lawns that were established by seed.

No matter the origins of your grass, and no matter the age of your lawn, at Red Hen Turf Farm we do NOT recommend letting your leaves cover up your grass throughout the entire winter.  

Yes, if you do enough Googling, you’ll see articles that tell you it’s desireable to let the leaves stay there, mainly because a thick layer of leaves gives wildlife a nice place to live and find food.  We disagree about this being a good idea.

In fact, we recommend you limit the advice you get online to reputable, regional websites such as Purdue University Extension, Michigan State University Extension, and Ohio State University Extension. At times, we also might use extension.org and other “land grant university” websites, although we try our “local” sources first.

When we give advice to our customers, it’s typically based on these “land grant university” / Extension websites because they only publish information that is backed up by scientific research and they pass the so-called C.R.A.P. testwhich means they are Current, Relevant, Authoritative / Accurate, and their Purpose is to provide science-backed information to the community and to fellow experts.

University of Minnesota Extension suggests that if you MUST allow leaves to cover up 10-20% of your lawn, it might be fine but leaving an excessive amount of leaves on your lawn over the winter is not advised.  WHY NOT? Many reasons, including:

  1. Excessive leaf coverage over winter will likely smother your grass and inhibit growth in the spring.
  2. Leaves shade your grass, which can prevent your lawn from being able to photosynthesize in the late fall.  Photosynthesis is crucial for plant growth because it’s the process that let’s them turn sunlight into “food”.
  3. Thick layers of leaves can smother and completely kill the turf. Removing the interference from fallen tree leaves also allows your late season nitrogen applications to reach the turf more effectively, and improves the efficacy of late-season broadleaf herbicide applications. Therefore, for optimum turf health, it is critical to remove the tree leaves, or at least break them up.
  4. Leaves, even in small amounts, can trap humidity at the surface of your turf, which may encourage snow mold diseases.
  5. The animals like mice, moles, and voles that might enjoy living in your leaves may cause more damage than usual.

So, what might you do with your leaves?

  1. Rake them up or use a blower, then either compost them, dispose of them, or use them to mulch a non-turf area of your landscape such as your garden of flower beds.
  2. Use your mower’s bagging attachment, then either compost them, dispose of them, or use them to mulch a non-turf area of your landscape such as your garden of flower beds.
  3. If the coverage is no too excessive, you can MULCH your leaves with a mower.  This chops them into small pieces that won’t smother your grass. Mulching is an especially good way to handle autumn leaves since the nutrients and organic matter will benefit your lawn and soil. To learn more about mulching leaves check out THIS LINK from the City of New Rochelle, New York, which provides information from Purdue and Michigan State Universities.

Until next time! And keep the questions coming … The Red Hen Turf Farm Crew.

 

 

 

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It’s getting to be the end … Jeremy Reflects

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Photo by: Leslie Lestinsky

Photo by: Leslie Lestinsky, Red Hen Summer 2015 Marketing Intern

It is getting to be the end…..

Well another season is about to be upon us and it’s not my favorite season. I am not much into the winter season. I am not really into the cold nor do I like driving in bad conditions. It was just 2 years ago that I put my truck into the ditch down by Peru. Luckily no one was hurt and a local sheriff pulled me out. I had a farmer with me and we were going to an Expo in Indianapolis. I remember him saying “There seems to be a lot of vehicles in the ditch down here.”  After the word “here,” we too were in the ditch.

So before the snow starts to fall, in my own yard I still have one application of Fertilizer to go down this week. I will not be over-seeding at this point; it’s just too late in the year.

I also need to start lowering my mowing height. The problem I have had lately is that we have been very busy and by the time I have time to mow, the grass is too tall to lower the mower blade.

While we’ll be harvesting (weather-permitting) up through Thanksgiving if not longer, it’s sad to think that another harvest season here at Red Hen Turf Farm is about to pass us by. But I do appreciate the time it affords me to be able to spend with my family and friends, and to reflect on what we were able to achieve as a team and what needs to be improved before our 2016 sod harvest season.

– Jeremy and the Red Hen Turf Farm Team

 

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In the news … Red Hen-Red Gold Partnership Highlighted by Turfgrass Producers International

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As our regular readers might recall, our Summer 2015 Marketing Intern, Leslie, was very busy with all sorts of projects (CLICK TO READ MORE).

One of the articles that Leslie wrote was submitted to the Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) magazine and we are very happy to announce that it has made it to PRINT!  

The article is about Red Hen’s partnership with Red Gold tomatoes and our diversification into producing a range of commodity crops in addition to the 100% Kentucky bluegrass sod that we are known for in the Michiana region.

You can READ about it by CLICKING HERE (pdf download).

Red Hen-Red Gold Partnership - Turfgrass Producers International SeptOct 2015

CLICK on this Snapshot to access the full-sized PDF of this Article

Red Hen Turf Farm is a proud member of several industry and professional organizations, including TPI.  The TPI website is a great resource for anyone seeking more information on the sod industry, and includes a directory of TPI members for customers in search of sod growers in their area.

Turfgrass Producers International is the only international trade association dedicated to promoting the benefits of turfgrass sod worldwide.  Their mission is: “To represent and advance the turfgrass sod industry worldwide through the promotion of improved practices and the professional development of members and the enhancement of the environment.”

Thank you, TPI, for your ongoing support of Red Hen Turf Farm!  For anyone interested in following TPI via various social media outlets:

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