Because it is more densely covered in trees than any other city in the United States, Atlanta is often known as “The City in a Forest.” However, even though the abundant foliage contributes a great deal to Atlanta’s unique aesthetic appeal, it also can create its own unique difficulties. Among these is the problem of collecting fallen leaves in the autumn, a headache familiar to Atlanta-area homeowners. Many of the clients who take advantage of the lawn care services that we provide at Turf Shield ask us whether raking and bagging leaves every year is something they really need to do. The answer is actually more complicated than many people might think and there is some controversy over whether it is better to bag your fallen leaves or to mulch them back into your lawn.
The Case for Bagging Leaves
For generations, homeowners have been raking and bagging fallen leaves to give their lawns a neater and more manicured appearance. This practice does have several advantages. Winter can be tough on grass, and a layer of leaves will block the light that your grass needs need to grow and thrive. In types of grass that don’t go dormant during the winter, this can produce weak blades with exposed crowns. Leaf cover also creates a dark, moist environment that encourages bacteria and lawn fungi. A thorough fall cleanup routine can provide better air circulation, which dries out and starves the moisture-loving pathogens while denying winter shelter to insects and rodents.
The Case for Mulching Leaves
Proponents of mulching hold that leaving leaves on the lawn can actually make it healthier and stronger. Decaying leaves are rich in carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, making them an ideal source of fertilizer. While it is true that a blanket of leaves provides food, shelter, and nesting or bedding materials to a variety of insects and wildlife, these organisms help aerate the soil and restore vital nutrients. Fallen leaves essentially offer a double benefit, forming natural mulch that helps suppress weeds while simultaneously fertilizing the soil as it breaks down. Many argue that it is foolish to spend money on mulch and fertilizer when your own literally falls from the trees.
The Answer: A Moderate and Customized Approach
The truth is that every lawn is different, and the decision of whether to mulch or bag will ultimately depend on the individual needs of your lawn as well as your own aesthetic tastes. It is important to maintain some control over the situation. Don’t just let the leaves pile up wherever the wind pushes them; they may effectively smother one section of the yard while leaving other sections exposed. Instead, run over the leaves with a mulching lawn mower, or mulching attachment, to reduce them to smaller particles. This compost mixture can then be raked into garden beds or around trees, where it can do the most good. The lawn and garden experts at Turf Shield can advise you on how best to prepare your lawn for the cold winter months, and what steps you need to best protect it.
Maintaining a lawn in Atlanta can be difficult, but having expert help can make it easier. If you have any questions about any of your landscaping needs, or about any of the customized lawn care treatment packages that we provide, please contact Turf Shield to get more information. Don’t forget to follow us on social media to get all the latest updates and lawn care tips.