Autumn brings a brilliant change to the landscape as leaves turn to hues of red, gold and orange. This time of year also creates a massive workload for homeowners in the rush to remove the leaves from the lawn. Leaves might be beautiful but they contain compounds that leach into the grass as they decompose. Homeowners must remove leaves during the fall months to allow sunlight and moisture to reach the growing grass.
Proper lawn care requires the removal of leaves as soon as possible to avoid damage to the lawn. Leaves block light and air to the grass, causing the lawn to smother as the leaves become wet. Consistently damp leaves will discolor patches of the grass that will require reseeding in the spring. Remember that still-growing grass works hard during the fall months to store energy for the winter. Promote success by increasing exposure to light and moisture during this time.
Leaf blowers, rakes and lawnmowers serve as the primary arsenal for leaf removal. Perform cleanup quickly after the leaves fall to limit damage to the lawn. Some homeowners use a blower to form a huge pile of leaves for transfer to yard waste bags or the compost pile. Others choose to use a mulching lawnmower to chop the leaves into small pieces on the lawn. Bits of leaves then decompose over time to enrich the soil. Mow thick leaf layers with the bag attachment on the mower for transfer to the compost pile or garden to avoid an excessively thick layer of mulched leaves.
Leaf disposal becomes a primary concern with the high volume of debris on the lawn. Compost piles work perfectly to tackle the volume and also provide a usable product for improving soil composition in your gardens. Throw chopped or solid leaves into the compost pile and pour in a few bags of grass clippings. Turn the pile every few weeks to encourage even decomposition in the pile.
Chopped leaves work as an organic additive for immediate use in the gardens. If composting isn't an option, place a 2- to 3-inch layer of leaves around trees or shrubs to add organic material to the soil. Stirring up the soil to incorporate the leaves will improve soil even faster. Leaf application insulates plant roots during winter months.
Brisk falls winds often bring down small branches from trees. Pick up branches before mowing to prevent injury. Mulching leaves and using leaves for compost allows the homeowner to solve two problems with one major effort. The grass receives nutrients from decaying leaves and nourishing mulch for garden beds adds essential organic matter to your garden soil. There's no need to bag leaves for removal to landfills when they can be used to sustain your home landscape.