I have an old Silver Maple tree in my front yard. Can I just rake the leaves to a bunch under the tree trunk, without mulching?

Will it have a similar fertilizing effect to mulched leaves, or will it just be frozen garbage during winter/thawed garbage during spring/dead lawn patch during summer?

  • I just shake my head when I see my fellow neighbors in suburbia raking and bagging their leaves. It makes zero sense to me. It is free food for your lawn. Just mulch them with your mower. I used to have to mow my backyard in 4 directions in fall each weekend. Only 50% of the grass could be seen by the end of the season, but those mulched leaves were gold to the lawn.
    – Evil Elf
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 14:09

3 Answers 3


In order for them to provide useful nutrients the next season they need to be chopped. A lawnmower or leaf blower that will inhale and shred leaves works great.

I pile six inches of shredded leaves on garden beds in the fall and it's gone by late spring. Thank you worms!

This does not work on grass which can only take a thin skim of shredded leaves.


Given that your tree would probably prefer not to have grass over its roots, and unshredded leaves would be its natural mulch in the forest, your tree would probably be happy, but if having grass under it is important to you, you would not, unless you can accept a circle of "not lawn" under the tree. If you can, it will turn into leaf mold in about 3 years, or faster (and with less blowing around) if shredded.


Leaf mulch works great. They'll start to decompose on the bottom layers, and especially during the winter when they are weighed down by the snow. Just keep piling them up there each year and make sure you wet them down really well so they don't blow away.

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