Mulching Leaves Reduces Dandelions in Lawns

Fall Leaves on Lawn

If you are busy raking the leaves off your lawn, you may want to consider mulching them instead to reduce common dandelions next spring. You can also reduce the need for lawn fertilizer. I know, it sounds like one of those crazy organic weed control myths. But this one is backed up with science.

Michigan State University’s Hancock Turfgrass Research Center did a study to see the affect of using a fall leaf mulch application from maples and oaks on lawns to help control dandelions. What they found was nothing less than astonishing. No matter which of these two types of leaves they applied, when applied at a rate of three pounds per square yard, there was an 80% reduction in common dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) in the spring. And with a second application the following fall the dandelions were reduced another 53% that spring. In addition, it also had a significant spring greening effect on the turf.

I had a home in Tigard with a large red maple tree out front and none in the back. I used a mulching lawn mower for years and I noticed that I never had weeds in my front yard while the back was a typical Oregon lawn. I never gave it much thought until I was at a Yamhill County Master Gardener class and the turf specialist mentioned this study.

So if you are looking for an organic lawn weed control method; put down your rake and get out your mulching lawn mower. It will save your back and reduce your dandelions next spring.