Why Rake Leaves? Should You Do It This Year?

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Raking leaves provides a cleaner-looking lawn, helps prevent mold and fungi, and benefits some grass types. However, mulching leaves might work better for your yard. So, should you rake leaves or mulch them? This depends on your personal preferences and grass type. Let’s review both methods.

Toddler holding a rake in a leaf covered yard

Raking Leaves

Raking provides a clean-looking lawn that you may like the looks of visually. Additionally, removing thick layers of leaves helps to prevent snow mold and certain lawn fungi such as Rhizoctonia, commonly known as “brown patch.” Grass typically recovers from these afflictions on its own, but looks quite unattractive during that process. Avoiding that ugly transition is a major reason that raking is so popular among homeowners. 

Additionally, your grass type may benefit from being leaf-free in autumn. Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescue, send energy to their root systems during the cool, sunny autumn days.

If dense, unraked leaves are blocking sunlight, the grass’s natural overwintering abilities will be weakened, leading to problems next spring. A majority of lawns in the Northern United States have one or more cool-season grasses, but research your lawn’s type(s) of grass to make an informed decision. If you’re not sure about your grass type(s), consider hiring an experienced lawn care team such as The Grounds Guys®. If locally available, their pros will recommend a fall maintenance plan that suits your lawn.

Mulching Leaves

While there are benefits to removing leaves entirely, many homeowners prefer mulching leaves with a lawn mower. This method still provides a clean, uniform look – though not pristine green – and can be a more economical route because you can save on fertilizer.

Mulched leaves can reduce or eliminate the need for store-bought grass fertilizer and suppress weed growth. Indeed, according to research from Michigan State University, mulching provides the same great fertilizer and weed control benefits as not raking leaves and allowing them to naturally decompose. Mulching leaves is a straightforward process: remove the grass catcher from your lawn mower and mow through dry leaves several times until they are in dime-sized pieces. Be sure to wear eye and face coverings, though, as mulching leaves can raise a lot of dust.  

However, you may be busy with your career and children, and mulching leaves is yet another home task that you might not get around to completing. If so, contact The Grounds Guys®, who provide fall lawn cleanup services. See whether they are in your area and get check off another item on your To Do list.

Leaving Some Whole Leaves on the Perimeter

You may have noticed that some of your neighbors never rake up their leaves. Are they too busy to get around to doing it? Or are they doing this intentionally? Some homeowners choose to leave fall foliage alone, reasoning that the leaves will provide fertilizer for the grass and suppress weeds – just like mulching does. While untouched leaves will do this, they can also harm lawn health, particularly if the leaf layer is too thick or develops fungi. As such, we advise either raking or mulching leaves – but leaving a few behind.

Leaving some whole leaves on the ground protects vulnerable pollinators such as bees and butterflies. This can also help other animals, such as amphibians and rodents, that burrow below the leaves or use them to line nests for hibernation. So, mulch or rake your central lawn, but keep some leaves intact on the fringes. This also provides good visuals because your yard will have an autumn appearance, whereas a perfectly raked lawn in Autumn can look a bit out of place.

Remember that leaves fall into your gutters, too, so consider scheduling professional gutter cleaning with Window Genie®, if locally available. Also, if you’re concerned about late-season mosquitos or fleas breeding in the wet leaves that you’ve intentionally left behind, consider an all-natural treatment from Mosquito Joe®. You’ll enjoy a bite-free season without worrying about harsh chemicals.

Find Time for All Your Home Projects

With every changing season house-related to-do lists grow. Do you wish you had more time and skill to get everything done? Your wish is our command. The Neighborly® home service pros, such as those mentioned in this article, will help you finish projects indoors and outdoors so you can spend more time with your family. Visit our homepage to browse our extensive services and reliable brands.

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