The Q&A Archives: Raking Leaves?

Question: My husband believes every leaf MUST come off the lawn in the fall. I have never raked the leaves. He says if we don't the grass will die. What kind of damage will happen to our grass if I do not rake leaves off it in the fall or will it be good for it?

Answer: In my experience living near an oak woods, it is nearly impossible to get every last leaf -- the wind always brings in more! But if there is a heavy layer of leaves on the lawn, especially a packing leaf such as maple, it can trap moisture and smother the lawn, especially if trapped beneath snow or during a wet spring. Leaves can also wash or blow during the winter and clog storm drains. If you have many trees and many leaves, rake (or use your lawn mower to chop and catch them) the bulk of them off the lawn. Then use a lawn mower fitted with a mulching blade (most modern mowers have these already) to chop the remainder when you do your last few mowings of the season. You want to do that one last short mowing so this is not an extra chore. The chopped leaves can help add a bit of organic matter to the soil when they break down over the winter. You can also use chopped leaves as a mulch on flower and shrub beds or add the leaves to the compost pile. Rotted down leaves (sometimes called leaf mold) is an excellent source of organic matter for the garden. I hope this helps.

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