CCE: Mulch Mowing Research Participation Opportunity

Received April 9, 2015





Mulch Mowing Research Participant Opportunity  

 Hello to all Westchester County Hudson Valley Horticulture newsletter Subscribers!  

Do you practice “mulch mowing” or the practice of mowing fallen leaves right into your turf; especially in the fall? 

 Jean Bonhotal, Director of the Cornell University Waste Management Institute is looking for research participants for an upcoming “real world” mulch mowing study right here in Westchester. Now is your chance to help add important scientific information about this practice to previous research findings.  

 Do you work for a municipality or similar entity? Are you a landscaper or an arborist and is mulch mowing in practice on your/those accounts? Do you have neighbors who mulch mow? If you do or perhaps even if you do not, please read further for a unique opportunity to help provide the Cornell Waste Management Institute with locations for this study. You will not be asked to change much about the way you conduct your lawn care practices other than keeping track of what you do (We are not even asking you to change your mowing height). One of the most important aspects of the site selection process involves the following:

 “Twelve sites will be selected in Westchester County. Four sites will have been mulch-mowed for 0-3 years, 4 will have been mulch-mowed for 4-7 years, and 4 sites will have had leaves removed. Data will be collected from all sites to assess the viability of this practice over time. Interviews will be conducted with property managers to document practices at each site”.

In our CCE Westchester Mulching in Place brochure, mulch mowing is defined as: “…mowing leaves right where they fall. On lawns, leaves are mulched into the grass where they decompose…”  

 Many of you know that mulch mowing is a practice that some have used over the last several years as a means of dealing with autumn leaves on home and municipal landscapes and as a method employed to put back into the soil that which is being produced by the trees that compose our urban/suburban forest. Many benefits have been ascribed to the practice, however most  research seems to have focused on whether or not mulch mowing was harmful to turf, and research also largely involved more controlled situations on test plots. This study would seek to compile critical scientific data resulting from the study of actual landscape situations where mulch mowing is practiced. In her research proposal, Jean Bonhotal has outlined the following research goals:

“…Measure the effects of mulching leaves in place annually over many years on chemical, biological and physical soil(s) health and water quality(w), including, nitrogen(s,w) phosphorus(s,w), potassium(s, w), micronutrients(s,w), pH(s,w), nitrogen mineralization potential(s), microbial activity aggregate stability(s), available water holding capacity(s), and compaction(s). Measure changes in turf quality. Measure changes in tick population dynamics. Estimate changes in GHG emissions”.

Other objectives have been defined as well.

Please join the site selection process by viewing the following:

Mulch Mowing Westchester Expectations

Mulch Mowing Westchester Questionnaire

 Word format Questionnaires for emailing back to us may be had by emailing or by calling 914-285-4618. Completed forms may also be FAXED to 914-285 4624

 Have a great day.


 Gerald G. Giordano

Senior Horticulture Consultant/

Extension Community Educator/

Cooperative Extension Agent

3 West Main Street, Suite 112

Elmsford, NY 10523