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With winter right around the corner, raking leaves and general yard cleanup is at the top of many autumn to-do lists. Neighborhoods on the weekends become a noisy chorus of leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and the rhythmic sound of raking. Additionally, many lawn care companies are getting their last boost of business before the snow flies. Aside from getting a good workout while raking or building a pile perfect for hours of jumping fun, is raking leaves really all that beneficial?
Why Do We Rake?
As soon as the giant maple drops vibrant red leaves in the front yard, it marks a season coming to an end. Many homeowners, particularly city dwellers, are quick to rake the fallen foliage into the gutter or into bags to be collected. Maybe you wait a little bit longer, enjoying the colorful carpet of leaves scattered across your yard, but in the end feel too pressured to “keep up with the Joneses”. Overall, most homeowners rake and remove leaves to improve the quality of their lawn, but many environmental experts are encouraging to leave some of the leaves on the lawn rather than in the landfill.
Leave The Leaves
Completely leaving the fallen leaves alone may not be the best idea. A completely unmanaged yard may suffer when leaf cover blocks out essential sunlight to keep grass alive, even during the dormant months of winter. While raking is an easy way to gather up leaves, it can also damage the soil if not done with care. Additionally, raking can change a habitat with the possibility of destroying it, so it should be done with care. The best way (and most suggested way) to prepare your lawn for winter is to mulch leaves, leaving the mulch on the lawn. Mulched leaves keep the lawn healthy and may also keep pesky leaves from taking over. There’s no guarantee that mulching will protect or harm a habitat below the leaves, so it’s up to you as how you want to take care of the excess leaves.
Compromise: Neatness & Eco-Friendly
Some environmentally friendly homeowners don’t own a gas powered lawnmower, so mulching seems to be out of the question. Rather than mulching, a little bit of raking should be done, but the leaves can be composted or placed around flower beds or on top of gardens.
For people who are willing to mulch, but can’t stand the thought of a mulchy trail on the lawn and throughout the house, mulched leaves can be collected in a lawnmower bag and either composted or scattered in and around gardens.
Leaf management, regardless of your preference of mulching or composting, will require a little bit of work, but you’ll save a lot of time by keeping your rake in the garage.