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What you need:
  • Lawn mower
  • Rake
  • Tarp
  • Hose
Shredded leaves make an excellent mulch and, left in a pile, they soon break down to form leafmold, a weed-free compost that plants love. You can buy a chipper/shredder to shred your leaves or you can use a rotary mower. Begin by raking the leaves into a thick carpet about 6-8" deep. (If you try to mow a pile of leaves, the mower will stall.)
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Mow along the outside of the patch of leaves with the chute aimed toward the center. Continue to mow back and forth until the leaves are shredded to the desired size. Shredding dry leaves creates a lot of dust, so wear a disposable mask or respirator to keep from inhaling airborne particles.
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Rake the shredded leaves onto a tarp. You don't have to rake up every leaf fragment, but you don't want to leave enough behind to suffocate the turf.
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Drag the tarp to a bare spot off the lawn and dump the leaves. Continue this process until you've shredded all your leaves (or as many as you think you need).
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If you want the leaves to break down into leaf mold, water the pile after you deposit each load. If you'll use the leaves as mulch, simply pile them up and leave them over winter. Put the mulch (2-4" thick) on the garden in spring. If you put the shredded leaves on the garden in fall, strong winter winds may strip them away.