The first freeze of the season has come and gone and our warm season grasses are starting to fade into dormancy. The trees are also changing into their beautiful colors and beginning to drop their many leaves.
That brings up a question we get every year. Should I rake my leaves just let them sit? The answer to that question varies a little bit depending on what you are trying to accomplish.
Unless you are trying to maintain a native, wooded area, some type of leaf clean-up is necessary to keep a healthy lawn. Leaves that are allowed to accumulate on lawns will suffocate grasses, especially newly seeded cool-season lawns, like Fescue or Bluegrass, resulting in dead spots next spring. Too much leaf cover also makes it harder to provide proper weed control in the fall making it likely to see some weeds breakthrough over the winter and into the spring.
Raking leaves is one option for keeping the lawn clean. It is a great way to get some free exercise (or keep the kids busy over the weekend). The problem with raking is that it creates piles of leaves that have to be removed. Since burning leaves is not something allowed in city limits, the next best option is to force them into big trash bags, drag them to the street and wait for the city to pick them up to deposit them at the landfill. That creates unnecessary waste and removes the opportunity for decomposing leaves to have some benefit to the lawn.
A better alternative is to keep them mulched. Mulching leaves actually chop up the leaves into smaller pieces and deposits them back into the turf. Mulched leaves have many benefits to the lawn, providing insulation over the winter as well as allowing carbon and other nutrients to be returned to the soil and made available for the plants to use. To be successful with mulching leaves, you will need to be consistent. Waiting for all the leaves to fall and trying to mulch them all at once will likely still have a smothering effect on the grass. So while you still reap the benefits of improved soil composition, you would have killed the turf. Nobody wants that!
There is a third alternative, but it would it probably make your neighbors mad. You could just blow all the leaves into their yard when no one is looking and let someone else deal with it. Just don’t tell them you heard it from us.
In all seriousness though, if you want to maintain a healthy lawn and protect your seeding investment leaf clean-up is a must. Contact LawnAmerica today for more information.