Autumn is a wonderful time of year. The leaves on the trees change their hue, bathing the neighborhood in splashes of scarlet and gold. Eventually, the trees shed their foliage and falling leaves end up on the lawn. So, should you rake fallen leaves or mulch them back into the yard?
Should You Rake Leaves or Mulch Them?
If you want your lawn to stay healthy during the fall and winter, you’ll need to remove the leaves from the turf so it doesn’t smother the grass.
You have options:
- Option one is raking them into a bag.
- Option two is mulching them back into the lawn.
Spoiler alert: mulching is the better and more eco-conscious choice for your yard.
Why You Can’t Leave the Leaves on Your Lawn
Grass is like every other plant in your yard – it requires regular maintenance and care to keep it looking great. Ensuring it has enough water, air, and sunlight is essential for a lush lawn – as are nutrients. Proper lawn care will save you time when spring arrives.
Leaving a thick layer of leaves on the grass will smother it, causing it to die. Covering the grass stops sunlight and air, and lessens water, which is a bad situation.
Grass without fresh air attracts harmful fungi. These fungi can spread to other plants and trees in your yard. They can even enter your home. A layer of leaf litter over the lawn keeps the ground cooler in the spring, but you’ll end up waiting longer for green shoots to turn into a new lawn or garden.
The reality is the leaves won’t disappear by themselves; it’s up to you to take action and do something about the situation.
Which is Better? – Mulching or Raking the Leaves?
Whether you decide to mulch or bag the leaves, removing them from the turf ensures they don’t smother the lawn. While most people just do leaf raking, mulching them into the yard returns vital nutrients to the ground that spur new growth in the coming spring.
Leaves contain two percent nitrogen, which is good for improving the soil.
Grass relies heavily on nitrogen for growth. Mulching the leaves into the environment is a great way to fertilize your lawn naturally. This will reduce your reliance on lawn fertilizer products the following spring.
Instead of collecting leaves, mulching them prevents weed seeds from growing, reducing the need for spring and summer weeding. This strategy prevents unwanted elements from taking hold in the lawn, such as crabgrass.
Here are the pros and cons of mulching and raking up the leaves in your yard
The Pros & Cons of Mulching Leaves
- Mulching is less work than raking, especially when using a lawn mower or mulching mower. A mulching blade can shred leaves into smaller pieces.
- You don’t have to worry about disposal of the leaves
- Mulching the leaves offers your lawn extra nutrients to reduce fertilizer requirements the following season.
- If you have many trees in the yard, too much leaf mulch may be overkill for the lawn.
- Mulching wet leaves isn’t a good idea as leaves decompose and rot, it may invite pest infestations and disease to the yard.
- Wet leaves and mulch can smother the lawn and prevent airflow from reaching the grassroots.
The Pros & Cons of Raking Leaves
- Raking leaves up is a great way to get some wintertime exercise. If you don’t want to rake, you can also use a leaf blower to save time.
- Raking the lawn keeps it looking tidy.
- Use the leaves as mulch for the garden beds or add them to your compost pile.
- Disposing of the leaves is challenging if your neighborhood doesn’t allow curbside retrieval of organic matter. You’ll need to visit a green landfill.
- Raking is a chore and time-consuming.
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