When Autumn officially arrives on the 1st of September, why rake the leaves? Is there a good reason for doing so, or is it better to leave them? I discuss the answers to those questions and much more.
My aim here is to supply you with all the information you need when it comes to raking leaves (or not, in some cases). So let’s get on with it.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
It Sounds Silly, But Why Do People Rake Leaves?
As beautiful as Autumn is with its wonderful display of nature’s wonderful autumn colors. It brings with it the task of raking leaves. But really, what are the reasons and benefits gained from raking?
1. For Lawn Care
Taking care of your grass is certainly the main reason for raking. I’m not saying that you need to rush out and remove leaves constantly. But, at the same time, you shouldn’t allow the layer of leaves to become too thick. It’s important to know how to rake leaves and when.
When grass is covered with too many leaves it is starved of sunlight. This can inhibit growth and may cause brown patches or harbor fungal diseases such as snow mold. The other great benefit gained from raking is that you will also remove any dead grass or lawn thatch.
There are a few different ways to achieve the right results, but the best way for you depends on your situation.
2. To Avoid Pests & Fungus
Leaf litter can create a micro-habitat that attracts all kinds of critters, both big and small. It can also trap moisture which can become a breeding ground for fungus. This can spread around the garden to other shrubs or a nearby flower bed.
Having said that, this is really only a real problem if you have a huge number of leaves and wet conditions.
3. To Make a Wildlife Leaf Pile
Did you know you can actually help wildlife by making a leaf pile? Leaf litter is very important for insects, protecting and feeding them through the cold months. As part of nature’s cycle, these insects then help to feed birds and the like.
Bring out your leaf blower and build a leaf pile in the corner of your garden to contribute to biodiversity (learn more: why is garden biodiversity important?). When you leave the leaves in a pile, you create the perfect winter home for butterflies and bees.
4. Making Compost for the Garden
If you have a compost pile already, no problem. Leaves are a great brown addition to all the green material such as vegetable peelings and grass cuttings.
Maybe you don’t have a compost heap, don’t worry leaf compost is just as good on its own. It is a good source of carbon that can be used to provide plants and soil with nutrients. The process for creating leaf compost is easier as well.
Now, Here Are Some Benefits Of NOT Raking Leaves
I can make a good argument for why not to rake leaves. But by that, I don’t mean just leaving them in your garden untouched. Mulched and shredded leaves decompose faster and can be beneficial to your lawn and the environment – this is how.
1. Reducing Waste
Unfortunately, it is estimated that millions of tonnes of raked leaves end up in landfills. Which certainly isn’t any good for the environment. It is a lot more beneficial to create mulch using Autumn leaves along with grass clippings. This avoids creating unnecessary waste in a society that definitely already has enough.
2. Creating a Natural Wildlife Habitat
If you love wildlife, then leave your leaves. You can collect them for use in other parts of the garden or garden making it wildlife-friendly. Trust me the various types of UK wildlife would thank you if it could.
Remember, think of your leaves as part of a small ecosystem, not some nuisance to be raked up and put out with the trash.
3. Increasing Beneficial Insects
Environmentalists now know that the collected leaf piles of suburban homes are an important element in maintaining biodiversity. As an example, the warmth makes it a safe place for butterfly pupa as well as other important insects, and birds can find food sources for the winter there.
4. Improving Soil Health
If you don’t want to rake leaves, then the best method of leave removal is probably to use a mulching lawnmower. By using a mower on dry leaves you are creating a mulch, leaf mulch which is an excellent way to add nutrients back into the earth.
When the leaf cover gets to about an inch, go over it with your mulching mower or lawn mower. It is essentially a DIY natural fertilizer that you can make for free, and as it decomposes it will supply your grass with a natural fertilizer.
5. To Save Time
Reduce the time you’re spending raking leaves by waiting until closer to the end of Autumn. Not only do they help preserve soil moisture and help to suppress weeds. They also provide protection from big fluctuations in ground temperature, which plant roots hate.
But, remember, if you have large amounts then do not let the layer develop into a smothering blanket. This will deprive your lawn of air and daylight and can cause damage.
Raking Vs Leaf Mulching: Which Is Better?
When it comes to the question of raking vs mulching leaves, there are pros and cons for both.
When you rake leaves from your lawn you are also removing dead lawn thatch and moss. This in itself benefits your lawn, while at the same time, you are getting some good exercise and fresh air.
Whereas mulching is a great way to put all their goodness back into the earth. And, personally, I find that mowing dry leaves along with your grass creates a wonderful leaf mulch that will release all their nutrients back into the soil.
But, you can have the best of both worlds. Whether you like to rake or favor the use of leaf blowers for blowing leaves. You can always use a stand-alone mulcher after collecting them. Or, another great option is using a leaf vacuum, as a leaf vacuum will mulch the leaves as they pass into the collection bag.
So To Sum It All Up
When dealing with leaves on your lawn, there is a time to rake and a time to leave it. Depending on the season and how thick the layer is, you can now decide which is the better choice for your garden.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Do you still have questions about why people rake leaves and why some don’t? Then these questions and answers may help you further.
Should leaves be left on the lawn over winter?
Although a thin layer of leaves can be left on the lawn over winter, it is not advisable to let them build up too much. Rake your leaves if the leaf cover is more than approx 1 inch.
Leaves on flower beds and around the base of trees and shrubbery will help protect the roots during winter.
Do leaves turn into soil?
Leaves don’t actually turn into soil, although when mulched or composted the leaves can be spread onto the soil to add valuable nutrients for plant life.
Should I clean leaves from flower beds?
There is no real reason to clean leaves out from flower beds unless they are in huge amounts and wet. A few leaves will benefit the bed as they decompose, however, too many wet leaves may cause fungal diseases such as snow mold to bread.