Richard L. Parish | 10/4/2004 4:24:05 AM
Sometimes you must pick up lawn waste or trash that can include leaves, pine needles and grass clippings as well as twigs, seed pods from trees, pine cones and other debris. There are tools designed for such jobs, says LSU AgCenter engineer Dr. Richard Parish.
In many cases, Parish suggests a good mulching mower – or even a good side-discharge mower – can chop up and mulch lawn waste, then blow it back down into the grass to decompose without removing it from the lawn.
The LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station engineer says if you must collect clippings, leaves or pine needles, you may want to consider some of the following equipment.
Choose a long-handled lawn rake if your lawn is small. It is the least expensive way to gather grass clippings, leaves or pine needles.
"A spring-tined lawn rake works much better than a garden rake, especially in Southern lawns," Parish says. "A stiff garden rake will snag in the tillers put out by Southern grasses such as centipede and Bermuda, but a lawn rake will flex and not snag."
Parish says most walk-behind mowers can be equipped with bagging attachments to collect clippings and other waste. Riding mowers – including zero-turning radius mowers – as well as many mower decks on lawn and garden tractors can be equipped with collection systems that use a powered blower to pick up and compress grass clippings and other materials.
These units may have a hopper instead of a bag and may be powered by the tractor or mower engine or by a separate engine. They may be rear-mounted on the tractor or mower or mounted on a pull-behind trailer.
"Although all of these devices are primarily intended for collecting grass clippings, they can also collect leaves and pine needles," Parish says. "One advantage of catchers or collectors on mowers is that the mower shreds the material somewhat so it can be compressed in the collector."
Parish says a push-type or pull-type lawn sweeper is a relatively inexpensive way to collect yard waste.
"A sweeper is old technology, but it’s still effective for many types of lawn waste," he says. The rotating brush will pick up grass clippings and most leaves. On the other hand, it won’t dig small leaves out of turf or handle some types of large leaves. A sweeper may plug up with some types of pine needles, and it won’t shred or compress lawn waste.
"Several companies make wheeled lawn vacuums that suck up lawn waste and blow it into a bag," Parish says. Like collectors on tractors, they do some shredding and compacting.
One type has a wide intake snout and is pushed over the lawn like a lawn mower. Others have a hose to pick up piles of lawn waste.
"After collecting your lawn waste, you should compost it rather than send it to a landfill," Parish says. "All types of lawn waste can be composted, and the resulting material can be used for mulch or soil amendment around your yard."
Parish also recommends contacting an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office to learn more about yard equipment. In addition, look for Gardening and Get It Growing links in the Feature section of the LSU AgCenter Web site: www.lsuagcenter.com.
Source: Dick Parish (985) 543-4125 or firstname.lastname@example.org