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Everything you need to know to keep your yard looking great through the fall.

Crisp air, clear skies, watching the Dawgs on Saturdays, and homemade chili are a sure sign of one of our favorite times to live in Athens, GA. While walking campus or driving around, you can’t help but to enjoy seeing the beautiful color of the leaves. Those fall colors are a welcomed sight for many, but that joy quickly fades away for homeowners as they pile up in their yard. Removing the leaves from the grass, landscape beds and away from the house is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also vital to grass health and home maintenance. Damp leaves can smother grass and encourage mold. These things can cause siding to rot and provide a comfortable home for rodents and bugs. We wanted to answer a few of the questions we get when people ask us to help them with their leaf cleanups.

What should I do with my leaves?

We’re glad you asked. Let’s look at a few of the options:

  • Mowing: You can blow all the leaves away from the house, flowerbeds, and other obstacles and into an area where you can easily mow over them. Once they are in the yard, run over them with your mower. For best results, do this when the leaves are drier, using a mulching blade every 1-2 weeks during the heavy leaf season. If you attempt this with too many leaves, then your lawn mower will likely bog down and not be able to efficiently mulch them.
  • Raking: If the leaves have piled up, you don’t have a mower, or you want a nice workout, then it’s time to break out the old trusty rake. Raking follows the same steps as mowing. Rake everything away from the house, flowerbeds and away from objects. Next, rake everything into piles throughout the yard. Transfer them onto a tarp and drag them to an area in your yard that you want them to sit (woods or garden). You can also skip the tarp and put them in large paper bags (never use plastic bags!). These bags are then placed by the curb for the city or county to pick up. The downside to this is the bags sitting on the grass by the curb will damage the grass as they wait for pickup. You will want to place them by the curb as close to your leaf and limb pick up day as possible to prevent grass damage.
  • Blowing: If you have a large wooded area or vegetable garden, then you can skip the mowing and blow them into those areas. The leaves will act as mulch and keep winter weeds down, and at the same time, break down into fertilizer for your soil.

I’ve always heard that bagging the leaves is the best option? Is this true?

Bagging the leaves is usually the worst-case scenario. Bagging can become necessary when you have not kept up with the leaves on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule and you don’t have anywhere on your property to dispose them. It’s also a lot of work to bag them. Mulching them with a lawn mower or moving them to an area to decompose is much easier and better for the environment.

What does it mean to “mulch” the leaves?

Mulching leaves is the process of breaking the leaves down from a full leaf into tiny pieces. Usually this is done with a mower equipped with a mulching blade. You can purchase a mulching blade at your local hardware store or outdoor power equipment dealer.

Why is mulching necessary?

Full-sized leaves take a long time to breakdown. By breaking them into tiny pieces, you speed up that process.

How do the leaves breakdown?

Once the leaf is on the ground, nature takes over. Worms, fungus and bacteria are the main mechanism for breaking down leaves. Worms love damp leaves. As they eat the leaves, they produce castings (poop) that are rich in all the things your lawn and garden need to grow. Decomposed leaves are a great way to fertilize your garden, lawn, trees and shrubs.

Do they have to breakdown to benefit my lawn?

Yes. Full size leaves will create a mat that will suffocate your lawn, increase the chances of disease, and encourage fungi to grow in your lawn. The effects will not be noticed until spring.

So is there any benefit to keeping full-sized leaves?

Yes. They are great for putting around trees, over your garden bed, or blowing into the woods. The same matting effect that hurts grass is beneficial to trees and gardens. They help prevent weeds from growing in these areas, and as they breakdown, provide rich nutrients to feed the soil.

This all sounds like a lot of work!

We agree! If you already have a great lawn care company taking care of your lawn then ask them to help you. If you don’t have a landscape maintenance company then we are here to help you. Please visit our website at www.restorationlandscapecompany.com to get a free quote on a leaf cleanup. We hope that you enjoy the season and find time to do what you love, whether that’s raking leaves, watching football, spending time with family or just resting!