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Mulching Rows with Mulched Leaves

Posted by John Rieffel 
Mulching Rows with Mulched Leaves
October 24, 2012 11:56AM
Currently my rows between trees have grass growing in them, which I dislike for any number of reasons. What is the current state of opinion about mulching the rows with mulched/bagged leaves from my mower?
Re: Mulching Rows with Mulched Leaves
November 01, 2012 08:46PM
I have absolutely no competence in answering this. The only reasonably solid comment I can make is that when I enquired at our local research station about this very question, I was assured that no leaves other than apple will transmit scab, (ie Venturia spores are present only on apple leaves. ) I have used large quantities (a full trailer-load of leaves per 40 ft. of tree row) each year for a number of years, on the principle that a thick carpet of leaves is the natural understory in forests, and thus consonant with the way nature intended. But if you are seeking to smother the grass growing in the tree rows, leaves alone won't do it - at all. I have spread cardboard first, then covered this with the leaves; this works reasonably well. This last year I have added, on top of the existing sandwich of leaves, another layer of cardboard, followed by ramial wood chips. Results to be reported in a year or two... About all I can say at this point is that it is bloody difficult to suppress grass growth, no matter how thick or dense one's mulch, and my sense is that one needs a solid layer, like cardboard, to get even vague control. (Sheep's wool doesn't work either... Nor does 4 inches of seaweed.) My current belief (and it is nothing more than faith, with not a shred of science behind it) is that the best mulch is a mix of many different things - I have manure, seaweed, leaves, ramial wood chips, and sheep's wool, with and without cardboard underneath. I am not at all sure that I can identify any particular benefit of any one of these, either over any other, or indeed over plain sod. But it makes sense to me that recycling nutrients into the soil must be a good thing.
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