Leaves For Composting

(Question)

In the same property, there is a tree and grass surrounding it. I’ve been told that the maple leaf doesn’t make good mulch for the grass.

So, instead of using the leaves for mulch, the leaves end up in the yard waste bag! And if I’m serious in wanting to use mulch for grass, I’m going to have to buy!

Wasted resources, I think!

Anyways, would you have a list of trees and their leaves that are unusable as mulch? Would you have a list specific to Toronto residents? Thanks so much!

(Answer)

Any soft leaves are good for lawn mulching including Maple.  However, if your Maple leaves or other leaves have powdery mildew, rust or tar spots, they should be discarded.  If you would prefer not to use Maple leaves for your lawn mulch, Birch, Ash, Catalpa, Beech, Gingko, Linden, Locust and Fruit tree leaves are all beneficial.  They are best shredded first through a leaf shredder to help them break down into soil faster, or just mow them into your lawn.  It may take several passes with the mower but it helps.  Locust leaves are already quite small and do not require shredding.

There are not many leaves that are unusable.  Definitely stay away from Black Walnut leaves.  Walnut trees produce a substance known as jugalone and some plants are sensitive to that element.  Leathery leaves such as Magnolia and Oak are slower to break down and are therefore less suitable for mulching. Minimize the amount of Oak leaves as they tend to be more acidic as are any coniferous needles (pine, spruce, etc.).  They may not be good for the lawn but are good for acid loving plants such as rhododendrons and azaleas.

Here’s a link with some helpful tips about using leaves for mulch (compost).

https://www.the-compost-gardener.com/composting-leaves.html