Even when the fall is warmer than usual and the leaves take longer to turn into all those beautiful colors, you know autumn is officially here when they finally start falling to the ground. And that means it’s time to break out the rakes that have probably been buried in your garage or storage shed since last year, right? Maybe not! We know this may sound crazy at first, but hear us out for a different view on leaves: there’s a great case to be made that raking your leaves, bagging them and sending them somewhere other than your property isn’t as great of a fall cleanup solution as you might have thought.
Why did we start raking leaves?
During the mid-twentieth century, especially as suburban areas exploded with growth and a “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality took root, we became convinced that our yards needed to look pristine all the time, even in the fall when leaves spread like a natural blanket over the grass. Leaf cleanup became one of the ways we convinced ourselves we needed to buy more rakes, bags and other lawn care products. The suburban legend ever since has been that letting your leaves stay on the lawn can kill your grass. While it’s true that piling all the leaves up in one area for an extended period of time can easily kill the grass underneath the mound, the opposite is actually true about leaving them spread across your yard. Why, you may ask? The answer is simple: dead leaves are a great source of nutrients for your soil because when they break down over the winter, they act like a natural fertilizer for your lawn for next spring. When we all bought into the myth of “rake to save your grass” we also became convinced that we needed to buy chemical fertilizers and mulch in the spring – when all along, the trees in our yards were giving us what we need. (And giving it for free!)
So why send your leaves to a landfill to compost with toxic trash instead of keeping them for your own benefit as mulch? This fall, consider mowing your leaves as an alternative to raking and bagging them. You don’t need a fancy mower for this – just mow a few times if you have to in order to get them sufficiently broken down. This will give you a win-win, because it will make your lawn look less cluttered and it will speed the process of breaking the leaves down and getting their life-giving nutrients into the soil before they blow away. The mulched leaves will also act as a protective layer for your grass by giving weed seedlings less space to encroach on your lawn. The mulched leaves can even help vital insects to live in your yard over the winter, which is another essential part of the ecosystem that is required for you to have a healthy, beautiful lawn. You can also put a message out on social media or leave a note for your neighbors that you’re willing to take their bagged leaves – more free mulch!
If you’re so accustomed to raking that you can’t imagine the autumn without making huge piles – maybe you want your kids to have the same experience of playing in them that you did as a child – then condense all of your piles at the end of your raking into one large mound where they can compost. Just make sure you don’t need the grass under the pile, because it will die after being covered long enough. Another great solution is to make a compost bin – this can be as simple as finding a few pallets and nailing them together to form a large box. Or, you can just compost them on your garden if you aren’t planting any winter crops. One alternative is to put the leaves in a large container like a trash can and use your weed eater to chop them up into fine little bits to be spread wherever you need them: flower beds, around the bases of trees, or anywhere you’ve already been using mulch.
Your raking alternative
But maybe you’re tired of mowing after a long season of grass growth and the cold weather has you wanting to stay inside instead of raking. If so, then take a look at the cutting-edge robotic mowers available from Mowbot – you can sit back, relax and watch all the football you want while your mower takes care of the lawn for you! We also have professional Mowbot wranglers who will make sure that the leaves which blow off of your lawn are cleaned up. We use all battery-powered equipment to minimize our impact on the environment, and we are passionate about making your lawn beautiful and healthy. Let us help you get your yard ready for the winter and set the conditions for you to have a beautiful, green spring in 2019!