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2 Jake Garzio Drive
Ewing, NJ 08628

Homeowners: Love'em and Leave'em

How to Get Started

We can understand how you might be nervous about how adopting the Leaves: Love 'Em and Leave 'Em (Mulching in Place) program might look in your landscape. So we answer some common questions in the FAQ section below. As we stated earlier, this is not a new program. Mother Nature has been doing it since the beginning of time and many Ewing residents have been managing their autumn leaf drop this way for years! Residents of Westchester County, New York have also been enrolled in a formal Love 'Em and Leave 'Em program since 2012.

So get answers to some of your common questions below. Then try mulching in place, even if it is just on a section of your yard for the first season. We're sure that once you discover how much easier, more cost efficient, and beneficial the program is, you'll be ready and eager to mulch-mow your entire property!

Residents Who Use Landscaping Services

For homeowners who use landscaping services, here's an informative letter that you can give to your landscaper to inform them about the change to the ordinance and how they can adopt these practices.  See also our informational page for landscaping services.

CONCERNS (about standard fall leaf clean-up methods)

  • Blowing of leaves off landscape beds removes all leaf duff, loose top dirt, and beneficial organisms. Creates a biologically “sterile zone.”
  • Blowing leaves leads to unnecessary noise pollution and results in airborne dust & fumes that can aggravate certain health conditions including asthma and allergies.
  • Filling bags and bags with leaves is time consuming, cost inefficent, and unnecessary.
  • Picking up of bags of leaves curbside often requires overtime for DPW staff.
  • Transporting and disposing of leaves from curbside pickup wastes fuel and contributes to air pollution. Leaving leaves curbside results in decomposition, leaching nutrients (e.g.; excess phosphorus) into storm drains.


There are a number of ways you can use your autumn leaf drop on site:

  • Shred your leaves with a mulching mower and leave them in place on your lawn.
  • Shred them with a mulching mower and use them as mulch in your borders and flowerbeds.
  • Blow them to the back of your beds where you can leave them to decompose over time providing habitat for the little critters that will become next year’s butterflies, moths…
  • Leave them (shredded or not) alone in the wooded areas of your property.
  • Compost them in a pile or container (with or without shredding) for use as mulch in the coming seasons.  Shredding them will, of course, compost them more quickly. 
  • No room on site?  Share your leaf mulch bounty with a neighbor or community garden!


All you need are your trusty rake, a mulching mower, leaf shredder or even a weed whacker in a garbage can. A leaf blower or vacuum can help you remove leaves from your beds for shredding.

Regular VS. Mulching Mowers
A regular mower will not give the best results, esp. with deep layers of leaves. This is because the mower will expel the leaves from underneath the deck before they are fully chopped into small shreds. Even with repeated passes over the leaves, the result may not be acceptable. If your current mower is still in good shape we recommend that you purchase a mulching kit accessory for it which closes off the output port of the mower deck, if not, this would be the time to upgrade to a true mulching mower.

Many companies make mulching mowers for both homeowner market and for the professional landscaper market. Such mowers can range between $150 to $350 depending upon brand, size of blade and so forth. (Professional landscaper mowers are typically more expensive.) Mulching mowers can also be found at Home Depot, Lowes, and other similar stores.

We recommend using a high-torque mower for mulching deep piles or wet leaves. If selecting a gas powered mower, a mower with at least 7 ft-lbs of torque be chosen. If selecting an electric mower, a 12 or 14 amp motor is good. Note that some trial and error may be needed to adjust the mower height to an optimum level which balances leaving the grass cut high and keeping the in-process leaf shreds from blowing out too early from under the mower deck. A height of between 2.5"-3" is a good place to start.

Be creative! We've suggest neighbors getting together informally to create a "lending cooperative" where mulching equipment is shared as needed during the clean-up season. Too many leaves even after mulching? Share your organic resource with a neighbor who wants more or with your community gardens for compost.

Check out the videos below to learn how easy it is for you or your landscaper to implement this program.

Leaf Volume Reduction

There will be a 90 - 95% reduction in the volume of the leaves when you mulch them with a mower or use a leaf shredder.
Ewing Green Team's Healthy Yards Campaign


Leaves: Love'em and Leave'em is a part of the Ewing Green Team's Healthy Yards Campaign
Learn More

Love 'Em and Leave 'Em for Homeowners

Love 'Em and Leave 'Em for Landscapers

Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions about Mulching in Place.  Should you require further assistance please email the Ewing Green Team or submit a question using our Feedback form.

What are some "best practices" that can benefit my landscape?
Recycling organic yard debris on-site saves municipal tax dollars spent on collection and processing. There are many ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle grass clippings, leaves, brush and branches, and organic kitchen scraps.

Effective yard debris management reduces waste, recycles organic materials, and can help to beautify one's property.

Simple, easy-to-learn techniques for reusing natural (and free) materials, providing environmental benefits for your plants and soil, include:

Composting returns plant materials and vegetative kitchen waste to the earth in a natural recycling process that can be done at home to improve the health of your soil.  Microorganisms from the soil interact with compost materials to help break down plant matter. Proper moisture, air, and temperature aid these microorganisms in their work. Finished compost is used as an organic plant food and soil amendment.

Grasscycling is the natural recycling of grass by leaving clippings on the lawn when mowing. Grass clippings decompose quickly, returning valuable nutrients back into the soil.  Research shows that your lawn will need one-third less fertilizer 

Mulching offers the multiple benefits of soil moisture retention, moderation of temperature fluctuations, and reduction of erosion and soil compaction. Using your yard wastes such as shredded leaves, grass clippings, and chipped or shredded braches and brush, supplies you with your own organic mulch.  Apply two - four inches deep over the soil and around plants.  This saves money for you and the municipality.   

Mulching Leaves in Place
Leaves are rich in the essential nutrients needed by plants, carbon, phosphorus, and potassium (the NPK on your fertilizer packages), including turf grasses. When you mow the leaves on your lawn during the fall, you will them up into small pieces to allow them to filter down among the grass blades where they will begin the  decomposition process. Multiple passes may be required to chop leaves fine enough so that they filter through the turf and expose grass leaves to sunlight.

Native Landscaping
Using perennials, shrubs and trees that have evolved over time in the local area takes advantage of the symbiotic relationships that they developed with insects and other wildlife that evolved with them.  NJ natives have also evolved to deal with the stresses of our local environment.  They will be able to throw off the effects of changing climatic conditions such as drought, heavy rains, early frosts and late heat spells, early springs, late winter snows, etc. better than introduced, non-native plants that may need to be pampered to get through these conditions.  This will reduce the need for additional inputs such as watering, fertilizing, and pesticides.  This will create a beautiful and healthy yard that attracts more birds and butterflies by providing shelter and natural food sources.

Stormwater Management
Reduce storm water runoff and keep our waters clean with the installation of green infrastructure such as rain barrels and rain gardens.  This also includes reducing impervious surfaces on your property, grading all areas away from your house at a gentle slope, i.e. diverting rain from paved surfaces onto the grass or rain gardens.  Your goal should be to keep as much rainwater on site as possible.

Red worms live in the upper layer of the forest floor. These worms can turn food waste into nutrient-rich humus for gardens and houseplants. A mere tablespoon of worm castings provides enough organic plant nutrients to feed an eight inch potted plant for over two months. Use a worm composting bin or vermicomposting bin to make a valuable soil amendment out of things like: old newspapers, vegetable food scraps, trimmings from house plants and other organic materials that would normally be thrown away.