By now most of the leaves have fallen from the trees around your home and you are left with bare branches and a property full of leaves. Maybe, you are wondering if you should rake them all up or just run over them with the lawn mower, collecting them in the bagger. Let’s review why it is so important to complete leaf cleanup at your home and what you can use those leaves for at your home.
While your kids may love the idea of raking leaves into piles and jumping in them, this is not the best option for your overall lawn care. Leaves should be removed from the lawn as soon as possible after they have fallen. Your lawn requires air and light to thrive and grow. Having an abundance of leaves lying on your lawn blocks both of these necessities for growth. If your lawn is being suffocated by leaves you may experience browning of your grass, dead patches and thatch (which causes your grass roots to suffocate).
PRO TIP: try to clear leaves before it rains. Once the leaves are wet you are left with soaked, clumping mat of mush (or leaves). The problem with this – wet leaves do not chop well with a mower and they tend to clog rakes and leaf vacuums. Also, a heavy layer of leaves will keep the soil of your yard moist, which can cause turf roots to rot.
So, what should you do with all of those leaves?
Mulched Leaves –
If you are able to collect your leaves with a bagger on your mower you can mulch the leaves and apply the leftovers to your plant beds for winter protection. Adding the leaves to the beds will help to keep moisture and warmth in the soil during the winter months. This will create an extra layer to protect next year’s blooms once the ground has frozen. In addition, the mulch will add nutrients to your soil to help plants & flowers to thrive the following year. Of note, unlike compost (detailed below) you do not want leaves that are decomposed as they are less effective as a barrier.
Compost Leaves –
The idea of creating a compost with leaves is more than just raking them into a pile and letting them sit. Compost actually needs to be mixed and watered. The layers of the pile need to be “turned over” to fully breakdown. You will want to make sure you shred the leaves first; this will help to speed up the process. Remember you will want to store your compost in a bin to help protect it from elements that will remove the nutrients created during the process. Compost doesn’t happen overnight; it must thoroughly decompose in order for the nutrients to be released.
Another great idea is to rake your leaves, un-mulched, into your empty vegetable garden. You can leave them there to compost over the season. In the spring you, simply, mix them in with your soil which in turn helps your soil retain moisture and adds nutrients.
Raking leaves can be a gruesome task and can even lead to a sore back, blisters on your hands and other types of injuries. If you are not up to the task, give us a call at Total Package Landscape. We can take care of all the hard work and leave you with a beautiful yard that is winter ready!