Raking Leaves

The simple answer is to protect and promote a healthy lawn. This daunting task can be made easier if it is done several times throughout the fall as the leaves drop. Your lawn will look healthier and leaf clean up in the spring is often more difficult since the leaves have started to decompose.

Reasons to Remove Leaves

1)    Leaves smother the lawn and inhibit growth
2)    Leaves retain moisture which can promote disease
3)    Leaves provide a habitat for critters that may damage a lawn

Leaf Removal Options

1)    Rake or use a leaf blower
2)    Use the bagging attachment for your mower
3)    Mulch leaves with a mower (do not use the bagging attachment). This has to be done often, depending on how fast leaves are dropping, or leaves will build up too much for this method to be effective. Leaves mow the best when they are slightly damp, so mow when there is dew on your lawn

What to Do With All The Leaves?

1)    Create landscape beds where the lawn does not grow. Allow leaves to fall into this area and they will not need to be raked. Leaves act as a natural mulch and will decompose over time, as they do naturally on forest floors.

2)    Create a compost pile for leaves and other landscape debris. Loosely add leaves to compost piles. Mix in a few shovels full of soil and approximately 10-15 gallons of water per 4 square feet to help aid in decomposition. Turn the pile again in the early spring to help with this process. Composting whole leaves works better than shredded leaves. Avoid creating compost bins larger than six feet across as the large size restricts oxygen flow, slowing decomposition. 

3)    Avoid leaving piles of leaves on property lines or by roadways. Often before leaves are picked up rain washes them into catch basins. As leaves decompose, they release nitrogen and phosphorus into natural waterways, causing algae blooms. Algae blooms reduce the amount of oxygen in water, often killing aquatic life.


There has been a resurgence of landscaping that is more in harmony with nature. That being said, if a pristine lawn in not at the top of your priority list, leaving leaves and other natural debris on your property can provide a beneficial environment for all kinds of native wildlife and insects. For more information, you can turn to resources such as The Audubon Society (https://www.audubon.org/news/to-help-birds-winter-go-easy-fall-yard-work) or The National Wildlife Federation (https://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/Cover/Brush-and-Leaf-Shelter.)