Should I Rake My Leaves or Leave Them on My Lawn?

Should I Rake My Leaves or Leave Them on My LawnChanging leaves truly makes autumn a beautiful season, especially in such a tree-rich area as Georgia. That is, until you realize that the leaves will soon fall all over your beautiful lawn. But what’s the best way to deal with leaves? Is raking leaves only an aesthetic choice, or does it actually impact the health and longevity of your lawn? Our lawn care professionals at Turf Shield are happy to tackle some of these most common questions homeowners ask dealing with leaves on their lawn.

Is it unhealthy to leave leaves on my lawn?

It really depends on how thick your leaf coverage is. A small number of leaves scattered around your yard won’t generally cause problems, but if you have more than perhaps 10-20% of your lawn covered by leaves, it is important that you address the leaves. If too many leaves are left on your lawn for too long (and especially if they’re still there when winter begins), they can smother the grass, provide a breeding ground for mold and certain lawn pests, and limit the grass’ growth in the spring.

What are the best ways to leaves off my lawn?

Raking your lawn is, of course, the first thought that comes to mind, but many homeowners prefer to look for other methods to avoid the strenuous physical labor, and In fact, other options may be more beneficial for your lawn. One of the best choices is mulching your leaves: using a mower (ideally a mulching mower) or another method to chop up the leaves into tiny pieces and then leaving them on your grass. This allows the leaf matter to sink into the grass and soil as it decomposes, so that you get a built-in lawn treatment from the many nutrients the leaves can offer. There is even some evidence that certain types of leaves can hinder weed growth, as an added bonus. Keep in mind, however, that mulching is only successful when you have a light layer of leaves, so you’ll likely need to do this frequently to avoid letting the leaf coverage become too thick. If you prefer not to mulch but want to avoid raking as well, other options include using a leaf blower or a bagging attachment for your mower.

How do I dispose of leaves from my lawn?

In many neighborhoods, your garbage pickup service may offer leaf removal. However, this often means they will end up in a landfill, which you’ll want to avoid if possible. Using the leaves as mulch or compost, or chopping them up and adding them to soil for the bases of your trees and shrubs will allow you to keep the leaves out of a landfill and will also benefit your lawn with their nutrients. If you do use a garbage pickup service which does not recycle leaves, try to place them in biodegradable bags rather than plastic ones.

Are there any downsides to raking my lawn?

Most homeowners want to avoid raking leaves because it can be difficult and time-consuming manual labor. However, raking may actually cause damage to your lawn as well, especially if you’re working aggressively or if your grass’ root system is weak. Damage is particularly common when raking wet leaves, so if you do rake your lawn, be sure to do so when the leaves are dry and light.

Leaf disposal may seem like just another tedious task for maintaining your home and lawn, but depending on how it’s done, it can offer tremendous benefits: a clear, clean-looking lawn throughout the fall and winter, and a healthier, stronger lawn by spring. If you’re ready to discuss how we can help you prepare and improve your lawn this fall, schedule a consultation with Turf Shield lawn care.