If your yard is starting to look like the forest floor covered in leaves, do not rake them up, bag them, and set them out for the garbage people. Instead, leave them on the ground or mulch them using your lawnmower. There are many benefits to your lawn and the ecosystem letting leaves decompose naturally you may not even be aware of.
Benefits of Leaves on Your Lawn
- Cheap and easy fertilizer. Mulching up the leaves and what lives in them is a free and easy way to fertilize your lawn. The tiny bits of leaves and bugs will decompose and enrich your ground soil.
- Building up the ecosystem. According to Matt Duczeminski, “The fallen leaves keep the soil in a natural equilibrium over the cold months, enriching it so it can act as a home to a variety of plant life the following spring.” Leaves also provide winter housing for squirrels and other wildlife that frequent your lawn.
- Free compost. When leaves break down, they not only get soft and “yucky”, they offer great composting benefits. Raking them into a small corner of your yard will provide a free garden compost next spring.
- Less waste in landfills. Slightly under 8% of total waste in landfills is made up of yard waste. That’s huge when you can use it yourself in a manner that is not wasteful and benefits your soil.
Drawbacks of Leaves on Your Lawn
- They may get wet and slippery.
- Leaves make your yard appear “dirty” or “unkempt”.
- Unwanted “critters” living in the leaves.
- Can clog storm drains and downspouts.
What’s Next, What Should I Do?
If you must rake your leaves and you do not want to use them on your property, check with your local government. Many communities have recycling centers to turn yard waste into mulch that is subsequently sold to local residents at low cost. In addition to free drop-off or curbside pickup, some communities also offer free mulch to residents.
If you want to keep your leaves on your lawn, it is recommended to mow them to mulch them up at least once every two weeks. Doing this will put the nutrients back into the lawn and naturally fertilize your lawn for next year. If there are simply too many leaves falling from your trees, create a compost pile or several piles. When spring arrives, you will not need to purchase fertilizer for your garden or flowerbeds. You will already have nutrient rich and ready to spread mulch for your yard!
Don’t rake your lawn. It is better for your lawn and the environment to leave leaves where they fall or rake them into piles for fertilizer for spring. Keep yard waste out of landfills. If you have more than you need, contact your local government or community recycling center to see if they accept yard waste and if there is a limit per household. Other people can benefit from your “waste”.