To Rake or Not To Rake? That Is The Question!
Do you rake up those fall leaves or do you leave them there? Raking is a pain in the butt chore that no one seems to actually enjoy doing. While some people desire that pristine lawn where not a blade of grass is out of place (nevermind a bunch of fallen leaves), others leave the leaves for various reasons. The real question is should you rake them or no? Let’s discuss…
THE BENEFITS OF RAKING
- If you have a lot of leaves that fall on your property (and I mean a lot!) then a little raking may benefit your lawn. Layers of leaves can prevent sunlight from reaching the grass, which can inhibit healthy growth necessary in the fall to increase its chances of a strong overwinter.
- Lawns have a layer of dead organic matter called thatch. Thick thatch layers can cause extensive root damage. Because thatch heats up and dries out quickly, the roots risk becoming too dry. Also, the crowns of grass plants growing in thick thatch layers tend to be elevated above the soil, making them more susceptible to scalping. A deep raking can help reduce the thatch layer and increase overall turf health.
- Fallen leaves often harbor disease, which can overwinter when the leaves are left on the ground. These diseases are usually host-specific. For example, a disease that affects deciduous trees won’t damage grass or perennials. Raking them up in the fall, though, can reduce the diseases you encounter the following spring and summer.
- It’s a good physical work out if you’re able to withstand it.
THE BENEFITS OF NOT RAKING
- If you don’t have excessive amounts of leaves, then feel free to leave them until the spring! Dead leaves on the ground are often used by insects and other critters as a source of food and shelter from the cold winter weather. Removing the leaves from your property may be a matter of life and death for some really beneficial critters! (How’s that for being overly dramatic! LOL! But it is true!)
- Mulching the leaves with a lawn mover and leaving them on the lawn also provides a good strong nutrient base for your soil as well as they will naturally compost and feed your grass which increases the overall health of your grass.
- Mulched leaves left on your lawn can also act as a natural barrier against weeds in your lawn!
- Fallen leaves act as a great mulch for your perennial beds as well. Rake up little mounds of leaves and place them over the root systems of your herbaceous perennials to help insulate them for the winter. Or surrounding your shrubs and tree trunks with mounds of leaves will have the same effect. Mulching them first will allow them to break down faster. This practice also provides rich nutrients to all of your perennial plants as well as all your trees and shrubs – which means having to spend less on compost come spring!
THE CHOICE IS YOURS
Ultimately, the answer to this famous question is that the choice is yours. Personally, to me, it just makes sense to leave the leaves on your lawn provided there are not loads of them. It’s really a personal preference. Do you want a tidy fall lawn or do you care about the environment and all of nature’s critters who you’re helping if you don’t rake?