To Rake or not to Rake? Common Myth Exposed!

Autumn is quickly approaching, leaves are beginning to change colors and fall; so it’s time to bust out that rake again, right? Maybe not, the practice we know as “raking leaves” to prevent them from smothering and killing your lawn may be actually inhibiting the overall health of your lawn.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Leaves must be raked or mulched off your lawn prior to applying winterizer fertilizer. 

MYTH: Leaves Kill Your Lawn

Even though you have been told that leaving leaves on your lawn can smother and kill your grass, that’s not 100% true. Fall leaves actually are beneficial to your lawn because they provide a natural form of nutrients that can help assist with improving the health of your lawn. Trees draw up nutrients and minerals from your soil converting them to leaves and branches. Once the leaves fall in Autumn and decompose, all the nutrients are then returned back to the soil. When you rake up all the leaves you are missing out on this natural process. Years of this can cause your soil to lose its fertility and ultimately affect the overall health of your lawn.

When its Time to Remove Leaves

Even though leaves have proved to have healthy benefits to your lawn there is such thing as too much coverage. Generally, you should manage leaf piles when you can’t see the top half of the grass blades or it covers a third of your lawn. If a frost comes and leaves start falling quickly, don’t panic, you can wait until the lawn is nearly covered before taking action. Don’t allow leaves to obscure grass for more than a few days because excessive piles of leaves on your lawn can cause turf diseases, limited circulation, block sunlight, cause roots to rot from excessive moisture.

Ditch the Rake and Leaf-Mulch Instead

Once your lawn has significant leaf coverage, its best to ditch the rake and bags and mow over leaves to make them smaller and easier to decompose. A good rule of thumb is: after mowing your lawn and breaking down fallen leaves, the more grass you see the faster the leaves will break down. The leaf bits that settle between the grass blades will eventually be broken down by microbes, enhancing your soil by putting nitrogen back into your lawn and reintroducing organic matter that will lead to a healthier, thicker lawn in the spring. If you notice that after mowing, these smaller bits are still piled up, take a rake to evenly disperse bits throughout your yard.

Credit to The Turf Care Supply Company – Taken from the TurfCare Newsletter, October 2016 Issue