The Lawn Mower – It’s Not Just for Mowing Lawn

Last week I mowed the lawn for the last time. Over the years I’ve gotten used to the fact that here in south-central PA, the final mowing of the season is usually in early December.

Besides just mowing the lawn, there were two other chores that I finished with the hold of the lawn mower. The first was dealing with leaves and the other was cleaning up flower beds.

When it comes to leaves on the lawn, some people are out raking every time a leaf falls; others seem to ignore the leaves and let nature take its course. I fall somewhere in the middle. While I’m not obsessed with getting rid of every leaf, I do know that a thick layer of leaves on the lawn can smother the grass. If the layer of leaves is very thick, I vacuum and shred the leaves . (The shredded leaves make a great mulch for the asparagus bed.)

But if the leaf layer isn’t too thick, I use the lawn mower to clean them up.  That was the case last week. The mower did a great job of shredding the leaves and removing any matting of leaves on the grass. Over the winter the shredded leaves will break down and I didn’t have to rake nor did I have to think about what to do with the leaves. I just let the mower do the work for me.

Perennial Bed before Mowing

Perennial Bed before Mowing

By December the perennial beds have finally gone dormant. There are always a lot of dead leaves and stems that I like to get rid of before winter. Some wait to clean the beds until spring, letting the dead plant material serve as a winter mulch. But since the winters aren’t that bad here, I don’t worry about a winter mulch – I just want to clean up the beds.

Perennial Bed after Mowing

Perennial Bed after Mowing

In years past I’ve gotten down and pulled the dead leaves and stems but now I’ve found an easier way to clean the beds. I raise the lawn mower to its highest setting and run it over the perennials. Daylilies are my favorite to handle this way. A couple passes over them and the clumps of dead leaves are shredded and laying on the soil. Chrysanthemums also clean up well this way. By the spring, most of the debris is broken down and any that hasn’t just gets covered with mulch. This trick also works well for cutting down a raspberry bed.

The lawn mower got a workout last week but now it’s tucked away in the garage. The lawn is neat and trim; the leaves are shredded and off the grass; the perennials are cleaned up – three late fall jobs taken care of with one machine. The lawn mower.

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