Fall is at our fingertips and there’s no way to escape the leaves. So, do you really need to spend your Saturday removing those beautiful leaves from your lawn and garden? The answer is most likely yes!
If your lawn has 10-20% leaf coverage, it might be okay, but excessive leaves on your lawn going into winter is bad for several reasons. First, the leaves will smother the grass, and if not removed, can inhibit growth in the spring, or even worse, cause sections of the lawn to die off. Second, damage from critters (voles, mice, etc.) can be more extensive in the spring if leaves are left untended. Finally, leaves carry fungal spores and bacteria from plant diseases like blight and peach leaf curl. The best way to minimize these diseases from reoccurring year after year, is to remove the fallen leaves from infected plants.
There are three main ways to remove the leaves:
Rake (or blow) the leaves into a pile, let your kids or neighbors jump in the pile a few times and then compost! (Diseased leaves should not go in your compost pile; put them in your green waste bin.)
Use the bagging attachment of your mower if you have one.
Mulch the leaves with a mower (i.e. chop them into small pieces so they fall into the canopy); this may require more frequent mowing or several passes with the mower to sufficiently mulch the leaves. This option allows nutrients and organic matter from the leaves to benefit the lawn and soil.
So although this may not be your favorite weekend activity, it’s worth it to get those leaves cleaned up, and make the most of the crisp air and beautiful fall colors while you’re at it!