September 24, 2014

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. “

~Albert Camus

Even with busy back to school activities, visits to the cider mills, Michigan football games, and even the youth soccer season, we do notice that our Michigan trees are starting to change color, and the leaves turn magnificent colors that are breathtaking. Though, it’s the dreaded chore of raking up the leaves from the lawn that often dishearten the season.

While the leaves that fall within our forests grounds slowly decay, they offer the return of vital nutrients to the earth. But, leaves left on the sidewalGirl Hanging From A Treeks and driveways become a slippery and unsightly mess, but worse yet, when left on lawns, these downed leaves can smother your lawn. In fact, fallen leaves create a barrier over the lawn, trapping moisture, inhibiting sunlight and harboring insects and diseases that can kill patches of even the healthiest lawns. Sometimes Mother Nature lends a helping hand by blowing a sweeping breeze that carries your leaves over to the neighbor’s yard. But beware: That same breeze is probably blowing more leaves onto your lawn, too.

If raking your entire yard several times this fall seems like a daunting task, hire a contractor, or break up the tasks, doing portions at a time.

Mulching Technique for Leaf Removal Using a Riding Lawn Mower

If you’ve got a large yard and you use a riding lawn mower, try leaf mulching. It’s easy: Just mow over the leaves. The mower chops them up and returns the smaller leaf pieces to the lawn. (If you’ve got some spots with a lot of leaves, you might need to make two passes to get finer leaf pieces that’ll decay faster into your lawn.) University research shows that leaf mulching with a mower doesn’t negatively affect turf performance, and it sure is a time-efficient way to get rid of those leaves!

But before you jump on your mower, here are a few tips:

  • Mow the leaves when they’re dry.
  • Survey the lawn for any sticks, branches or small tree limbs that may have fallen. Mowing over these can dull your blades and create dangerous projectiles.
  • Consider wearing a mask and safety glasses to protect your eyes and avoid breathing in the fair amount of dust that can come from chopping up dry leaves.
  • Bag your mulched leaves and use them for compost. (The smaller leaf pieces simply speed up the decomposition process.)

Maintaining a leaf-free yard this fall can help assure a healthy lawn come spring, and it provides a wealth of composting material to further your garden’s wellbeing. It may be disheartening to go out the next day only to find your yard littered with more leaves. But soon enough the task will be behind us all, as the bare trees dot the coming winter landscape – giving us plenty of time to prepare for all the gardening fun come spring!