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To Rake or Not to Rake

October 1, 2012
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Just like any suspenseful movie or fun night out, all good things must come to an end. And that includes fall's color show.

As leaves begin to fall, many wonder what they can do to be environmentally responsible and put all those good nutrients to the best use.

Experts recommend raking leaves from lawn areas and adding them to compost bins. Remember, whole tree leaves can form a mat impenetrable to air movement in compost so shredding them first can help promote proper composting.

Don't want to get out the rake? Shredding leaves that fall on the lawn with a mulching mower as you mow will break the leaves into ¼-inch pieces, which will filter down between grass blades, decay and add beneficial organic matter to the soil.

Microbial breakdown of the organic matter can tie up available nitrogen in the soil and cause a pale turf color in the process, but Davey expert and ISA Certified Arborist Greg Mazur says homeowners shouldn't worry because this is only temporary and worth it for soil improvement. Just make sure the tree leaves are uniformly distributed on the lawn before mulching.

Craft enthusiasts can also use leaves to add to fall-themed wreaths or centerpieces.

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