One of the best things about Fall, and especially if you live here in the East, is the changing of leaves on the trees during “the season.” The ambers, the reds, the oranges … pop. But as surely as they are set to glow, those colors too will quickly fade and those leaves surely will begin to, well, that’s right – fall.
Now, if you care about your lawn, these leaves need to be removed. Right? Right. … or Wait! They block out the sun, and the sun is an essential ingredient to maintaining the growth and the development of your lawn’s root system.
It is said that in these cooler months (Fall), the lawn is making food so that it can store up for continued growth underground even in its dormant season (Winter).
It is typically recommended that you remove leaves weekly so that your lawn isn’t deprived of that precious sunlight.
But wait, “remove leaves?” … And maybe that phrase is just a wee bit … misleading. I mean – I don’t know about you, but when I hear “remove leaves,” I think – rake ’em up, bag ’em up and sit ’em out on the curb. But wait! This is certainly not your only option for Fall leaf removal.
Instead of “removing leaves” let’s change it to something like “breaking up the leaves” … into small enough *ahem* helpings that they do not, that’s right – stop the sun from reaching our finely manicured lawn.
I read in a recent Harris Poll study conducted by John Deere that alongside mowing, raking leaves was in fact one of our (homeowners) least favorite yard chores.
While raking is the most common method of removing leaves (and chances are you’ll still need to do it, some), there are still other alternative methods for their removal and further, there are alternatives too for what we ultimately do with them.
Deere suggests, “What about a leaf blower or attaching a material collection or mulching system to your mower?”
For myself, I found (last winter) where I left leaves down over some relatively young ground cover, those areas (covered with leaves) did much, much better than other areas that were left uncovered.
Riding lawn mowers with mulching decks (or walk behinds fitted with a mulching blade) chop up leaves and blow them back into the turf. This has the benefit of not only taking the work out of leaf removal, but the mulched leaves provide a nutrient-rich boost to the soil.
Chopped up leaves, created either by that riding mower or with a lawn vac attachment to a leaf blower, may be worked right into soil with a tiller. These same leaves can be incorporated into garden soil by hand, becoming a very powerful soil amendment.
* Composting (and Creating Leaf Mold)
Composting is the breaking down of organic matter for use as fertilizer in the future. Anyone can build a compost pile in their yard or buy one at a local hardware store.
If you build one, it should be three feet in diameter and four feet high in order to build up hot internal temperature that gets the material “cooking.” It is recommended that you fertilize it with 10 parts each of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Compost piles can be made of any organic materials like leaves, grass clippings, straw and other disease-free vegetable matter.
Similarly, in an article from the Garden Club, the Home Depot points to Leaf Mold, a sister of sorts to compost. Leaf Mold is created by bagging up shredding leafs and allowing them to sit for a year. Leaf Mold they say can be used around perennials, vegetables and shrubs.
* Decorating (and Craft Activities)
Quoting from that same Garden Club article, “Fall centerpieces indoors and out can be dressed up with leaves. … keep an eye out for the best-shaped and most strikingly colored leaves. They can be arranged them into vibrant wreaths or used in table settings for family get-togethers. Children in particular are often amazed at the change leaves go through, making them perfect for creative activities.”
– Tips for Raking
Facing facts, any or all of these activities listed above still almost always leave you with *tongue in cheek* leaves … for raking.
I have always made this a family activity. We have several leaf rakes in various sizes (and ones can be found specifically for the kids in the family).
I prefer a metal tine rake myself (like the one pictured at the top). I typically gather leaves into piles where I can then bag them or do what I will with them. One upside of this, of course, is large satellite piles that make for great falling or jumping into … fun, for the whole family.
That’s it. Thanks out to John Deere for the article idea. To read more about John Deere – John Deere Test Drives and Review (right here on Building Moxie). For more info on Fall Lawn Care, perhaps this article – How to Prep Your Lawn for Winter. Cheers. ~jb