Posted by: GreenerGreenGrass | October 14, 2010

Fall Lawn Care: Should You Rake or Mulch Leaves?

Should you rake or mulch leaves?The leaves are changing, and as beautiful as they are now, they will soon be in a less-than-beautiful carpet on your lawn.   So what should you do with leaves on your organic lawn – rake them into piles or mulch them into ground cover?  Let’s look at some pros and cons…

Raking Pros:

  • First and foremost, you get to jump into a giant pile of leaves.  This is a huge pro if you have kids.  Or if you’re me.
  • Removing leaves from your lawn will keep air, water, and nutrients flowing to the grass.  Leaves also block sunlight, which is important for any plant to grow.
  • Dead leaves on grass can quickly become a breeding ground for insects and fungus.  Yuck.
  • Some people consider a completely leaf-free lawn to be aesthetically pleasing.  If you’re one of those people, raking is a good option.

Raking Cons:

  • Anybody who has ever done it knows that raking leaves is hard work.
  • Raking can actually cause damage to your grass, especially if the root network is not particularly thick and healthy.  If you rake too hard it may uproot sections of turf that are not well-rooted.
  • If you dispose of your leaves and lawn waste, they are probably going in a landfill, possibly even in plastic bags.  If you do choose to throw away organic lawn waste, at least use paper bags that will more easily biodegrade.

Mulching Pros:

  • Using a mulching mower is much easier than raking by hand.
  • Mulched leaves and grass clippings are excellent sources of organic lawn nutrients when they are left on the grass.  They will continue to decompose and provide essential minerals and nutrients to the lawn through the autumn and winter.
  • The organic lawn waste goes right back onto the lawn, not in a landfill.

Mulching Cons:

  • If you use a gas-powered mulching mower, the emissions, noise pollution, and air pollution are not insignificant.  Thankfully there are plenty of eco-friendly mowing options available.
  • When the leaves are dropping, you’ll have to mulch fairly frequently because most mulching mowers can’t handle a complete carpet of leaves.

What else can you do?  If you have a compost pile, dead leaves and other organic matter are a great addition and will contribute to creating a rich, healthy soil.  You could also use a leaf blower, but if you want to go the eco-friendly route, consider using an electric or propane-powered leaf blower to reduce your carbon footprint (and noise).

Whatever you decide, try to keep it as eco-friendly as possible.  If you rake, either compost the leaves or dispose of them in biodegradable bags.  If you mulch, consider investing in an electric mulching mower; a manual reel mower will also do the trick, but you may have to work a bit harder for the same results.

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Responses

  1. [...] first step is to remove any dead leaves from your lawn.  You can rake or mulch leaves, but you have to do something with them to avoid snow mold and other potential problems.  After [...]

  2. [...] first step is to remove any dead leaves from your lawn.  You can rake or mulch leaves, but you have to do something with them to avoid snow mold and other potential problems.  After [...]

  3. [...] This is by far the most common question we are asked.  You have a number of options when it comes to handling dead leaves on your lawn, but the fact is, you have to do something.  Leaving dead leaves on your lawn can potentially damage it, and at the very least it will make your spring lawn care chores significantly more difficult.  You can rake (then bag or compost leaves), mulch (with a mulching mower or leaf mulcher), or use a leaf blower (preferable an electric one).  Last year we provided some good tips to help you answer the question of raking vs. mulching in the post Fall Lawn Care: Should You Rake or Mulch Leaves? [...]

  4. [...] Rake or mulch leaves to prevent lawn diseases and pests from making your grass their home.  And yes, you really do need to remove leaves from your lawn.  Sorry.  The good news is, they will all be gone by the next holiday, so hopefully this is the last time you’ll have to deal with it. [...]

  5. [...] have already covered the pros and cons of raking and mulching, and both of those options work, but the bottom line is, you must remove leaves from your lawn.  [...]

  6. [...] – Whether you choose to use a (preferably electric) leaf blower, rake, or mulch, it is essential to remove leaves from your lawn.  Leaving unmulched leaves on grass will trap [...]

  7. [...] already covered the pros and cons of raking versus mulching, but what if you are one of the many people who likes to use a leaf blower?  That’s cool, as [...]

  8. I’d choose “raking”. It’s really a hard work but for nature’s sake. I’ll choose it that “mulching”.


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