Autumn brings cooler temperatures and flame-colored leaves, making for crisp days and a vibrant landscape. But it can be tough to enjoy the splendor if you’re worried about raking and disposing of all those pretty, fallen leaves. Fortunately, I’m here to tell you why you shouldn’t rake your leaves. Just like your food scrap waste becomes fertilizer in the form of compost, your fallen leaves will work hard to feed your yard and gardens—so don’t bag up those valuable nutrients and abandon them at the curb for the landfill!
But you don’t want to let large clumps of leaves remain on your lawn over the winter either, as they’ll suffocate and kill the grass beneath. Don’t fret! With these ideas, you can create a plan for your fallen foliage.
If you don’t have the time or energy this fall, don’t rake your leaves whatsoever—there’s no need! Simply mow over your leaves once (maybe twice), and you’re done. You’ll need to finish mowing before the leaves are thick and wet so as not to clog your mower. These mulched leaves will act as a natural, super-local fertilizer for your lawn, and you do no bagging, hauling, or raking in the process.
If you have the time and energy for raking, gather a few piles under trees, in your gardens, and on potted plants to act as a winter barrier. Your garden plants won’t feel the sting of frost, snow, and cold quite so much. These packed leaves may also serve as a winter home to hibernating frogs, insects, and other critters. Come spring, the covered plants will probably start to peek through the leaves sooner than any that were left bare. At this point, you’ll probably want to remove the leaves or cover the plants with more conventional mulch. Whole leaves don’t generally break down in one winter, but shredded leaves, if you have the time, make great mulch (though shredding leaves will require shredding equipment).
More common in Britain, “leaf mold,” is a leaves-only compost that is aged for a year or more (fancy, right?). It’s much easier than shredding leaves and is a simple way to create great compost. Just punch a few holes in the bottom and sides of a trash bag, and then fill it with leaves, sprinkle with water, and shake a few times before closing it up. Put this bag in a shady spot until next fall, and you’ll be left with nicely decomposed leaves for healthy garden mulch.
Keeping your leaves local saves fossil fuels in mulch transport and trash pickup, preserves landfill space, and keeps nutrients in your yard! The work is rewarding for your back yard, the environment, and you. Do you have other reasons why you shouldn’t rake your leaves? Let us know on Twitter!
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