The leaves are falling from the trees, carpeting the grass. It’s such a beautiful time of year. But that doesn’t mean we should ‘leaf’ them behind. Instead, take a look at this gardening expert’s advice, and enlist in the help of a lawn care and maintenance expert to get your home winter ready.
The leaves are starting to carpet lawns, aided by the rain and touch of snow last weekend. New homeowners often ask me if it’s necessary to rake up the leaves. The answer is no, but it comes with one catch — leaves shouldn’t cover more than 10 to 20 per cent of the grass.
Why you should be raking up those leaves
Excessive leaf matter on your lawn going into winter is bad for several reasons. First, it will smother the grass and if not removed early in the spring , it will inhibit growth. Second, it can promote snow mould diseases. And finally, turf damage from critters (voles and mice) can be more extensive in the spring.
A homeowner basically has three options to make sure that leaves aren’t covering a significant portion of their lawn:
- Rake them up or use a leaf blower to collect and dispose of them;
- Use the bagging attachment for your mower; compost the leaf/grass mix or dispose of curbside;
- Mulch the leaves with a mower (chop them into small pieces so they will fall into the lawn.
This is my preferred option because lawn and soil will benefit from the nutrients and organic matter. Some leaf types, such as maples, have been shown to reduce weed seed germination when mulched into a lawn canopy. The leaves of some particular tree species such as locust add a significant amount of nitrogen to lawns because these species use nitrogen from the atmosphere just like soybeans, so higher leaf nitrogen contents in these leaves is possible.
A lawn care and maintenance expert will have the expert knowledge to tell you exactly how leaves are harming your lawn! And how to fix it if there’s already some damage.
The benefits of mulching
Successfully mulching leaves into a lawn requires more frequent mowing in the fall and possibly several passes with the mower. Keep in mind that chopping leaves into small pieces is important. You can buy a specialized mulching mower that will chop up leaves in the fall and grass cuttings in the spring and summer.
I do a combination of using the bagging attachment on the mower to dispose of some leaves and mulching the rest into my lawn. When using the bagging attachment, it is necessary to dump several full bags of cut up leaves into the composter before bagging them for curbside pickup.
Raking leaves seems like an awful lot of work, but it has come to be a rite of passage as we move from the dog days of summer to the amazing array of colour in the fall to the soon-to-be hibernation of winter. Enjoy those last few days when we can get outside, work up a hardy appetite and rake a few leaves.
Get the family involved because there’s nothing like playing in the fall leaves. I love the sound as you walk through them. Winter will be here before we know it.
If you need some help getting your home in order, consult our directory to find a lawn care and maintenance expert who can help. They’re experts in the field and can ensure your lawn is winter-ready! Remember, it’s not too late.
About the Author:
Denise Hodgins is a gardening expert who regularly writes for the Toronto Sun.