By: Josh Sens Nov 4, 2022
Oh fall. What a beautiful time of year when the leaves turn into a crayon of colors before falling to the ground turning our days into hell.
Or at least a headache for golfers, homeowners, and janitors.
Dave Ousterhout, a 24-year-old member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, is the best man on turf at Concord (NH) Country Club. The course he maintains is a wooded layout that plays through walkways of oak, maple, hickory and… you get the picture.
When fall comes, the leaves never leave you alone.
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Over the past five weeks, Ousterhout and his staff have spent more than 400 hours dealing with foliage. Along the way they also found golf balls worth a lifetime (frankly Ousterhout says she’s lost count), a bonus we can’t promise while she works in his garden.
However, what we can offer you are these three tips to deal with leaves at home.
1. Work with the wind
No wind, no rake. Expect. That is not the saying. But here is the point. What applies to golf also applies to racket management. Be aware of where the breeze is blowing and do yourself a favor: work with, not against, nature’s fan.
2. Mulch Thank You
Like most superintendents, Ousterhout has a fleet of machines that give him multiple ways to handle sheets. He can direct them back into the woods with a combination of backpack blowers and larger blowers attached to lawnmowers. He can vacuum them up with large vacuum cleaners. And he can cover them while he mows the lawn. He uses each of the three methods about a third of the time. It is this last method, mulching, that is often overlooked by homeowners.
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“If you can mulch, it’s worth it,” says Ousterhout. “It turns those leaves into valuable nutrients for your lawn.” Until a certain point. Too much of a good thing can be a problem. Excessive mulch can leave an unhealthy layer of shredded leaves on your lawn. But this is something that almost everyone can take a look at. To be on the safe side, you can wait until the trees are nearly bare and have had their last leaf-cleaning sessions of the year before mulching.
3. Take an ounce of prevention
No one is suggesting that you should vacuum every leaf off your lawn. But it’s worth removing as many as possible before winter sets in. Not only is it gentle on your lawn (layers of leaves under snow can lead to mold and other problems), but it also saves you the hassle of spring cleanup.
Golf, food and travel writer Josh Sens has been a contributor to GOLF Magazine since 2004 and now contributes across all GOLF platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is the co-author with Sammy Hagar of Are We Have Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.