It seems like there are very few topics in the gardening community that you won’t find some debate about. While some people advocate only planting native species, others love the diversity and challenge of exotic plants. While some people love ponds and other water features, others see them as mosquito havens in the making. And this time of year, the topic of raking and bagging your leaves is no different. While traditionally people have always cleaned the leaf litter from their lawns and sidewalks, many gardeners are advocating to leave it be for the winter. There are certainly positive points to that argument (from providing shelter to over-wintering insects and critters to the leaves being an available fertilizer layer to improve soil health as they break down over winter), there are also reasons not to skip the raking and bagging, especially if you’re working towards a beautiful, manicured, healthy lawn throughout the fall and beyond.
A Mulch Layer
One of the reasons that people advocate for leaving the leaves is that they act as a mulch layer and hold in moisture before breaking down and adding nutrients to the soil. This is the same reason we mulch larger plants with wood chips and why many people leave the grass clippings when they mow. However the big difference between grass clippings and leaves is the size. You would never leave a full layer of wood chip mulch on your grass because it would kill the grass and leaves can behave similarly.
Too Much Moisture
A full layer of leaves can hold in too much moisture. Under the leaf layer, grass can quickly succumb to pests or disease, develop mold, or simply drown in too much moisture. Since you can’t see what’s happening under the leaves, you can’t get in there to help your lawn.
Similarly to holding in too much moisture, a full layer of leaves can block all of that beautiful fall sun that your grasses need to continue growing. Both cool-season and warm-season grasses can continue to thrive for a little while in the fall, as long as they continue to get enough sunlight and water.
Is There A Middle Ground?
Thankfully there actually is a great middle ground. You should continue raking up your leaves so that they’re removed from your lawn (go ahead and jump in the pile if you want) but don’t throw them away. Add them to compost or use them as an actual mulch layer on the plants you would usually be mulching anyway, like trees, bushes, and perennial garden staples.
The Landscape Design Center Can Assist With Your Fall Lawn Care
At the Landscape Design Center, the client is always our number one priority. We are committed to creating, improving, and maintaining the environment – an environment in which our clients live, work, and play. We do not just help to design and install your yard; we also ensure that all of your landscape maintenance needs are taken care of. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube to stay up-to-date on all of our latest news.