September 16, 2022

In small numbers, leaves in the process of breaking down provide grass with useful nutrition. However, if there are any trees on your property, fall brings fallen leaves in more serious quantities. A mat of leaves significantly reduces the amount of air, water, and light that can reach grass blades. In addition, any areas covered with leaves, whether resting where they fell or raked into piles that aren’t removed, provides protection for harmful insects and funguses, which can do a lot of damage out of our sight. Here are a few tips and recommendations to help you keep your turf healthy this fall.

What’s the Best Way to Remove Leaves?

The two most common methods both have drawbacks. Raking has the side benefit of also removing thatch, a layer that forms just above your soil when dead grass is too thick to break down easily and can also block nutrients. (also, rakes are cheap.)  Unfortunately, most rakes make it all too easy to rip grass blades.  The other choice is a leaf blower, which definitely won’t damage your lawn. However, they can be very loud, and their disproportionately large amount of emissions contributes to climate change. 

What Should You Do with Leaves Once They’re Collected?

If you have a garden, you probably already compost your leaves. If not, you can collect them in the large paper bags available at any home or garden supply store for exactly this purpose. Most local governments pick up yard waste either on a regular schedule or on demand. In many places, city or county ordinances prohibit disposing of leaves and limbs with regular trash or recycling.

Sending leaves to a landfill in plastic bags is a particularly bad idea.  The leaves will break down slowly inside the bags due to lack of oxygen, thus taking up space for a long time, and the plastic bags, of course, will last forever.  If you’re at all uncertain about the rules in your area, doing a little research can save you from paying fines.

Speaking of fines, most municipalities have outlawed burning leaves.  In dry areas, there’s obviously a risk of the fire getting out of control.  But even under the best conditions, burning leaves releases all of their stored carbon dioxide, as well as other chemical compounds that aren’t healthy for people or the atmosphere.

Are There Any Other Options?

The best option for your lawn is turning the leaves into mulch with a mower. Small fragments won’t block air and water supplies and will themselves break down easily into nutrients.  The good news is you won’t need a rake or a leaf blower.  The bad news is you’ll almost certainly have to mow more frequently in the fall than you otherwise would, and you may have to do additional passes at each mowing to make sure most of the leaves are shredded.  Many modern mower models are designed specifically to mulch efficiently.  And they’re useful at other times of the year, too, allowing you to mulch grass clippings into tiny nutritious snacks.

If you have questions about the best way to dispose of fallen leaves in your particular situation or any other subject related to lawn care, the professionals at Southern Lawns are ready to help.  Contact us today at 334.466.0600 or