Lawn Maintenance 101: When Should You Rake Leaves Off Your Lawn
It’s important to know why you should rake leaves in order to understand when you should rake them. It’s not just about tidiness but also has a lot to do with the health of your grass.
There are two schools of thought. One suggests you don’t rake at all; it’s time-consuming and laborious. Also, too much raking isn’t good, especially if you’re too enthusiastic or aggressive, and you can cause damage to the lawn if the leaves are wet. Be sure to rake small amounts, gently, when the leaves are light and dry.
Too Much of a Good Thing
There are those who believe a layer of leaves is a good way to protect the lawn and fertilize it but there are also a number of reasons as to why it’s not good to have too many leaves for too long on top of your grass, including:
- Lawns need to breathe
- Too many leaves can be a cozy home for pesky pests and diseases like brown patch and snow mold
- While a layer of leaves can protect the nutrients escaping from your lawn, too many leaves can also create a barrier, preventing water, a healthy air flow and nutrients getting to the roots
- A really thick layer of leaves can keep new grass from growing
If you’re an old hand at lawn maintenance you will have a ‘feel’ for when the leaves should be raked but if you’re new to it, there are a few guidelines that’ll steer you in the right direction.
How Long To Wait Before You Rake
A general rule of thumb is every three to four days however there are no hard and fast rules as to how long you should wait. This is because there are too many determining factors for it to be an exact science. For example, do you have a lot of trees? What kind of leaves are they? What kind of lawn do you have? Is there a lot of rain or moisture around? How thick is the layer of leaves?
Bet you hate hearing it but yes, size does matter. If you have a large lawn you might find yourself raking more often to keep it manageable. Also, having a lot of deciduous trees will mean more raking more often.
Tools of the Trade
Small lawns will probably need a rake, while larger lawns will need a leaf blower and a rake to get the job done. There are some lawn owners who prefer to run a mower over the leaves, catching the majority into a bag. And then there are those who like to mulch things up.
Much More Mulch
There are a lot of nutrients in decomposing leaves and mulching them is one way of ensuring a wonderful source of free compost. What a mulcher will do is break down the leaves enough for them to stay on the lawn without becoming too heavy or causing damage as mentioned before. The mulch will slowly work its way into the soil as a cheap and effective fertilizer.
As you become more familiar with lawn maintenance you’ll feel more comfortable knowing when it’s the best right time to rake. A couple of leaves lying around on the grass isn’t a major issue at all. It’s when the layers start piling up and they get too heavy and wet that the damage is caused.
Decomposing leaves make for a good organic fertilizer, but they will need to be mulched. While it sounds like additional work it actually saves time and you save money not having to buy nutrient-rich compost or paying for a lawn service to remove the leaves. It’s a win win situation for everyone.