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Leave Your Leaves Alone!

Stop! Wait before you rake those leaves this year.

It is now officially fall here where I live and the leaves are starting to tumble down to the ground. However, I don’t do much raking, despite being an avid gardener.┬áThis year, do what I do – let your mower do the hard work for you instead of spending hours upon hours raking leaves (that somehow seem to blow right back to their original spots, anyhow…)

Instead, remove leaves the easy way.

Each year, leaves fall and winter rain and snow will compact them into a dense and soggy mat. This can kill your grass over time by smothering out oxygen, denying proper air circulation, and encouraging fungus and disease to grow. Even if the weather is dry this fall and winter, a thick layer of leaves left on grassy lawns during these months will cause problems. And, well, a yard covered in leaves often just looks unsightly.

So, you have to rake them up, right? Wrong.

Using your mower, you can shred your leaves into tiny little pieces that will actually help your lawn and not cause harm. And you won’t have to lift a rake! Use a mulching mower if possible. If not, use a standard side-discharge mower, and mow to allow your leaves to blow toward the center of your lawn.

Set your blade to a height of 3 inches and remove the bagger, if you have one. Then get to mowing. The leaves will chop up into tiny pieces that can stay right on your lawn without causing harm. The finely shredded leaves will decompose all fall and winter long, releasing healthy and organic micronutrients into your soil. This will actually help feed your lawn and will act as a natural fertilizer.

You may need to repeat the process a few times over the fall season, especially if you have lots of trees. If a thick layer of shredded leaves still covers the lawn too thickly, you will need to make one or two more passes over the lawn. You may want to attach your bagger for the second pass. You can also collect these shredded leaves to add to your compost pile, or use them as homemade mulch for your gardening and flower beds.

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