One of the best ways to work organic matter into the soil under your lawn grass is to let earthworms do the job for you. Yardeners often ignore earthworms. Yet earthworms can be significant partners in managing the soil under your lawn.
Believe it or not, the favorite food of the earthworm is dried leaves and other organic materials, the very material that many yardeners rake up and discard each fall. We recommend using a mulching lawn mower to mulch dried leaves right down amongst the base of all the grass plants in the lawn. Leave between ¼ of an inch to ½ an inch of these finely chopped leaves. The worms drag dried leaves, tip first, into their burrows and then break them down into plant fertilizer. If you have a healthy population of earthworms in your lawn, that ½ inch of organic matter laid over the surface with the mulching lawn mower in the fall will be gone by spring without your having to do anything but simply mow your lawn as you must anyway.
Earthworms and Trees & Shrubs
One of the reasons virtually all of the files on trees and shrubs in Yardener’s Helper recommends having a layer of organic mulch under all trees and shrubs is to feed the earthworms and help keep their population high. Often when you have laid a layer of 4 inches of chopped leaves as a mulch under some shrubs, it seems to disappear in a matter of months. Most yardeners think it has decomposed. In part that is true, but the major portion of that mulch is pulled down into the soil by earthworms, millipeds, centipedes, sowbugs, earwigs, and other critters found in a healthy soil. By keeping that organic mulch at a level of 3 to 4 inches all year long, you insure a healthy soil and consequently more stress free plants. Plants with less stress don’t suffer attack from insects and disease which means you have a beautiful low management landscape in large part because you have happy earthworms.