McHenry County Department of Health - Environmental Health
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Use your mower to shred leaves into bits which, like grass clippings, will be washed down into the soil between the grass blades during the next rain. Leaves provide small amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and micro-nutrients to the lawn. Mulched leaves contribute to soil health.

Mow on a frequent basis as the leaves fall. You may have to mow twice to chop the leaves into small enough pieces. Leaves only need to be collected off the lawn if the chopped leaf layer is so thick that it blocks out the sun.

Use the bag attachment on your mower to collect the leaves and use them for mulch around trees, shrubs or wooded areas. Shredded leaves will not cause thatch or weeds in your lawn. Leaves applied 4 inches deep between rows make an excellent pathway. Also, tilling or digging leaves into vegetable and annual flower beds will improve the soil's quality. Shredding leaves first will make tilling easier and the leaves will decompose faster.

Chopping up grass and leaves has benefits for your yard: Lawnmower

  • Improves the soil by adding nutrients & organic content
  • Encourages earthworm activity
  • Moderates soil temperatures
  • Conserves moisture
  • Reduces weeds
  • Reduces soil erosion


A heavily wooded area on your property is a good location for extra leaves.  Be sure the leaves are chopped first. Too thick of a leaf layer may smother woodland plants.