As trees prepare for dormancy in the fall, one impact is the dying of leaves which once appeared vibrant as they emerged on branches in the early spring. The fallen leaves find their way into gardening beds and blanket grassy areas in a sea of autumnal colors, leaving many homeowners to ask, do you really need to rake the leaves on your lawn?
The answer is yes, and no. Confused? SavATree is here to help clarify that answer.
Fallen leaves are a natural powerhouse for much of your yard. For starters, fallen leaves will become beneficial compost over time – enriching the soil with valuable nutrients straight from nature itself. In addition, the composted leaves feed microbes in the soil, which creates a healthy soil biology necessary for healthy trees and plants.
Fallen leaves create an additional layer of organic material, making an excellent insulator for fragile plants or newly planted saplings during the cold winter, while protecting beneficial insects seeking refuge. Come the spring, the composted leaves can then be worked into the soil to return their valuable nutrients to the Earth, creating an optimal growing environment for fruits and vegetables, as well as flowers and shrubs.
While beneficial in flower beds and gardens, leaving an excessive amount of leaves on your lawn during the winter months is not ideal.
While fallen leaves will benefit the root systems of your lawn with natural nutrients, they cannot be left whole or in piles for that to happen. Fallen leaves need to be broken down into smaller, finer particles to fall between your grass blades, where they can more easily decompose into the root system (and, in turn, the soil).
Leaving large, deep piles of fallen leaves atop your lawn throughout the winter can smother and suffocate your lawn as it requires light and oxygen to breathe – even during dormancy – and will inhibit new growth come the spring.
Additionally, decomposing leaf piles will promote snow mold while providing a cozy habitat for voles who prey on your lawn’s root system.
Therefore, large, deep piles of fallen leaves should be disbursed evenly on your lawn before going over them with your lawn mower to break them down into smaller particles. If there are too many fallen leaves to mulch back into your lawn, they should be bagged and discarded properly based on the rules of your municipality.
For more information on caring for your lawn, contact your local SavATree branch today.