Weed Control That’s Truly Sweet.
Did you know that ongoing research at Michigan State University is revealing that sugar maple leaves may make a promising control for dandelions?
The original 1991 study was looking at the effects of applying mulched leaves to turf because a new local ordinance banned fallen leaves from entering the waste stream. It was noticed that the turf was certainly more vigorous and had better colour in the spring, but the real surprise came when it was discovered that there were fewer dandelions on the plots that had received the leaf mulch. The effect was even more dramatic on the plots that had received mulch made from sugar maple leaves.
In 2003 a new study was launched to investigate the possible reasons behind this occurrence. Increased fertility, pesticide residue on the leaves, increased microbial activity and simple smothering were all quickly eliminated as possible explanations. Scientists now believe that sugar maple leaves contain a chemical that inhibits both dandelion growth and the production of seed heads. Although several types of leaves have been studied, it is the sugar maple leaves that appear to provide the best control.
Research to isolate this chemical continues, but for now it would seem that mulching leaves on turf isn’t just a good practice for improving the soil, it may also help to control a new crop of spring weeds. This is one more reason to encourage planting a tree that is native to many areas of North America.