To quote a meme travelling around the city lately, Atlanta’s weather just went from 90 to 55 like it saw a state trooper! Most of us are thrilled to have temperatures that finally make it feel like fall, and even the windy and rainy days are a welcome reprieve from the steamy summer that overstayed its welcome. But of course, as the temperatures drop and the winds pick up, many of us are losing sight of our lawns underneath a fresh layer of fallen leaves. Before you grab your rake or call your lawn service, are you sure you want to get rid of all of that colorful ground cover? Most of us are use to tidying up in the fall and getting rid of the leaves, but that may not be the best idea for your lawn.
Many people grew up believing that raking leaves is a must for a healthy lawn, and that a blanket of leaves would kill the grass beneath by robbing it of sunlight and interrupting water absorption. As it turns out, this is only true where thick piles of leaves form. A thin layer of leaves actually act as natural fertilizer, adding nutrients to your lawn’s soil that you would otherwise pay for in the form of chemicals to add back to your grass after raking and removing the leaves. In fact, if you leave your leaves be, you may be able to avoid fall fertilizing, as the nitrogen from the leaves should be enough to feed your grass for the winter.
Mulch Don’t Remove
What about the spots where leaves do pile up in thick mounds, potentially smothering the grass beneath? Experts still recommend that instead of raking and removing, that you mulch instead. Blow or rake the leaves out into the surrounding lawn in a thinner layer if needed, then attack the leaves with your lawn mower. While there are mulching mowers on the market, you don’t need a specific kind to do the job. It may take a few passes over the same area to shred all the leaves, but your lawn will thank you in the end.
My Lawn Runneth Over
The advice above is great for those of us with only a few trees in yard, but if you are blessed with an overabundance of larger trees like oaks or pecans, you really may have more leaves than your yard needs for fertilizer and mulching. Raking and removing is still not the recommended course of action. Attach a mulching bag to your mower and use some of the shreddings for your flower beds and shrubs, and if you maintain a fall garden, the leaf clippings make excellent fertilizer for your autumn veggies as well. Basically, experts recommend reusing this natural soil food rather than going to the extra step of purchasing and applying an extra product.