To Rake or Not to Rake

To Rake or Not to Rake

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.

  • Garden ornaments July 11, 2013 >It feels awesome to read such informative and unique articles on your websites.
  • gardensite January 9, 2013 >A great blog. I like your many comparisons between gardening and other out door activities such as a night out and how they all must come to an end. I also like the fact that you give an expert opinion about how you should shred up the leaves before adding them to your compost bin as whole leaves block air from getting through and into your compost bin.
  • Your Davey Arborist October 8, 2012 >Hi, Alice! Yes, using a blower is OK for leaf collection. Remember to always wear safety protection when using this equipment on your own and follow any noise ordinances in your community that relate to blowers. These typically restrict blower use during early morning and late hours due to noise. Any professional company you hire should follow these safety and noise ordinance rules as well. Let us know if you have any other questions. We'd be happy to help!
  • Your Davey Arborist October 8, 2012 >Hi, Joe! Heat from the composting process should control many fungal pathogens. But our first recommendation would be to discard infected leaves and plant parts entirely. Let us know if you have any further questions!
  • Your Davey Arborist October 8, 2012 >Hi, Mark! We recommend you give the soil a good soaking, if possible, prior to ground freeze. Apply mulch around the base of your woody plants to conserve moisture and moderate soil temperatures. Good luck and let us know if you have any other tree care questions!
  • Jeremy Omlie October 8, 2012 >Thank you again for this information...
  • Mark Reed October 7, 2012 >Dave, Given the drought that encompasses most of the state, how should we protect our lawns, shrubs, and trees? Thanks, Mark
  • Joe Slomka October 7, 2012 >What about leaves with black spots on them. My late wife worried about putting them into the Colonie compost bags. Can they "infect" the compost? Thanks Joe Slomka
  • ALICE CAIRO October 7, 2012 >I HAVE MY LAWN DONE BY OTHERS--THEY USE A BLOWER--IS THIS OK?
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