As the leaves begin to change colour and create a beautiful scenery for your property, it will soon be time to start raking them up as they begin to fall all the way up to the first snowfall. In order to maintain a healthy lawn, it is important that the fallen leaves do not cover a significant portion of your turf grass canopy. Leaves should not cover more than 10 to 20 percent of your lawn. Removing the leaves from your lawn will also prepare you for Turf System’s very important Dormant Winter Lawn Care Application which promotes hardiness and a speedy recovery in the springtime.
Having too many leaves on your lawn will decrease the turf’s ability to breathe and increases the risk of dead patches or fungus. Damaged lawns will be slow to green up once spring comes around and may reduce the lawn’s ability to maintain good colour throughout the following season. With the goal of turning on your lawn next season and maximizing oxygen production, it is important to avoid these issues by raking in the fall.
The majority of lawns in Southern Ontario consist of one or more cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky Bluegrass. These turf grass species are most active during periods of moderate to cool temperatures. Fall provides an excellent balance of sunlight, nutrients, water, and temperature allowing for the grass to revitalize (especially after a drought stressed summer) and strengthen its root system to prepare for winter.
It is also worth noting that it’s ok and in many cases preferred, to leave your mowing height unchanged going into the winter as long as your leaves are cleaned up. This normal 3” grass cover provides your lawns roots with added protection in the event your lawn is without snow cover for part or all the winter months in your area.
There are a few things you can do with raked leaves that will contribute to a healthy, Turned On Lawn.
It is recommended to shred the autumn leaves for a quicker break down of material and to facilitate easy mixing of the compost pile when necessary. Leaves can be shredded by driving over them with your lawn mower or running them through a leaf vacuum. Combine the raked leaves with grass clippings and continue to mix the pile every four to five days. A dark brown compost with an earthy smell will be ready to add to your soil in approximately two months.
Mulch is designed to reduce weeds and maintain moisture. You can add your shredded raked leaves to woodchips and grass clippings to use in your garden to provide extra protection. Remember, it is important to replace the old mulch regularly.
If keeping the leaves is not an option for you, please take advantage of municipal collection programs. They will collect and compost the organic matter for you, redirecting this valuable resource from local landfills.