The art of mulching has aided autumn clean-up

By Brent Frazier,  Mayor, city of Pelican Rapids 

One of the most successful film stars in the 1950s-1960s era was Doris Day. Her career spanned from 1939-2012! She was also a much accomplished singer who recorded more than 650 songs from 1947-1967. 

The talented Doris Day released a familiar song in 1956 entitled “Autumn Leaves.” The song tells of a young lady who now especially misses her lover when she sees the red and gold leaves drifting by the window. 

Yes, for any of us that have looked out our window lately, we also see the leaves of red and gold fluttering from the trees and accumulating on our lawn. So now is time to dispose of these leaves before the early winter snow begins to fall from the sky.

Remember a few decades ago when the procedure for leaf disposal was to rake them up with a garden rake (whose purpose is to move and smoothen out soil)? 

At that time it was probably our only option. We grabbed the handle of the garden rake and pulled it through the grass to gather up the mountains of leaves that almost completely covered our lawn.

The task was long and tiring and usually left its’ mark with plenty of blisters on our hands. The tines on the rake would quickly become tangled with leaves, grass and other debris that was lying on our lawn. 

Then the task became to raise the garden rake and whisk away the clump of matter on the head of the garden rake by either dragging it backward on the lawn or to remove the clump with our calloused hands. 

A few years later came the new and improved lawn & leaf rake. With the long fan-shaped set of plastic tines, the task of raking the lawn was much quicker due to the leaves not accumulating on the rake tines. 

Then the more recent question came to many of us; “Why are we raking leaves when we can use our lawn mower to mulch the leaves?”

The “mulching” rotary lawn mower came into our lives and many of us became followers of this invention. A patent for the “mulching” lawn mower was applied for by Frank E. McLane in 1990 and the patent was issued in 1992 and thus the invention was available for purchase to the public. 

A “mulching” mower repeatedly cuts the grass clippings and leaves into fine particles which are then returned to the lawn.

Now the task of leaf removal became much easier although we really aren’t removing the leaves, but chopping them into small particles and returning them to a home between the blades of grass where they will decompose over the winter months and then add nutrients to the lawn, lighten heavy soils and help with moisture retention. 

The mulching procedure probably doesn’t make our lawn look picture-perfect as when we raked the leaves, but then we became to realize that a few stray leaves or particles of leaves on our lawn really didn’t matter as soon a blanket of snow would cover our lawn.

It will probably take two or three mulching procedures to shred and cutup the leaves, but gone are; the blistered hands, the sweat from our brow, the bagging and handling of the leaf piles and now we are adding valuable nutrients and moisture retension qualities to the lawn.

It should be noted that it is against City of Pelican Rapids Ordinance to deposit leaves or grass clipping on city streets and street gutters. 

So please do not rake or blow leaves or grass clippings onto our city streets as Street Department personnel are doing their best to sweep up the leaves that naturally fall or are windblown onto the city streets.

But then again, why would we do such a thing when we know that tree leaves are a beneficial and nutritional supplement to our lawn?

“Happy Leaf Mulching” to you all! 

Pelican city prohibits raking leaves into city streets, gutters 

Chapter 3, Part 2, 302.05 DEBRIS ON STREETS AND RIGHTS OF WAY, Subdivision 1. Debris Prohibited states “No person shall deposit or permit to be deposited on any public street or right-of-way in this City, leaves, grass, sand or any other materials, nor shall any person plow, shovel, or blow snow or permit the same to be placed onto a public street or right-of-way in the City.”