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October 28, 2019

Do You Have to Rake the Leaves?

Man wearing brown boots standing on top of orange leaves.

Trees are beautiful – and they add to a home’s value – but if you have deciduous trees, it can lead to quite a bit of raking in the fall. When you add in cooler, wetter temperatures and seasonal allergies, raking the leaves can be a huge chore. So… can you skip raking those leaves this year? What’s the point?

Protecting Your Grass

Your lawn needs to be open to the elements to be healthy – grass needs sunlight, air and water. If you let the leaves cover your grass, they’ll eventually form a water and sun barrier that can damage your lawn. Plus, if you have cool-season grasses in your yard, you’ll be depriving them of their best growing season. Essentially, if you want a healthy-looking lawn in the spring, you’ll want to rake (or use the leaf-blower) in the fall.

Thinning the Thatch

Although using a leaf-blower requires less manual labor – and it might be the best solution for many individuals – raking has a secondary benefit. Every type of grass has a layer called the thatch between the soil and the blades of grass. Thatch is essentially the dead stuff at the bottom of the grass and, when you rake, you pull up a lot of the thatch, giving the healthy grass additional access to rain and sun. Thinning the thatch is good for your lawn.

Pests and Fungus

Although grass doesn’t like the dark, wet conditions of fallen leaves, rodents and fungi love it. By skipping the raking or leaf-blowing, you’re creating the perfect condition for some new friends like mice and voles, who will be happy to take up residence under the leaves while they snack on your lawn underneath. Also, if you let the leaves rot into the winter, don’t be surprised to find snow mold.

If you can’t (or don’t want to) rake your leaves, you can mulch them using your lawnmower. If you’re going to go this route, you’ll want to mulch them often enough that the leaf cover doesn’t get too thick. Also, after you’ve mulched, you should be able to see the grass underneath. If you can’t, you’ll still want to get out the rake or leaf-blower. You can also compost your leaves to put in your garden in the spring.

Not interested (or can’t) do this work yourself? Your local TruBlue technician will be happy to help. Find your local TruBlue to get started.

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