Summit Lawns | Yard Care Blog

The Importance Of Leaf Cleanup

There has been some debate in recent years about whether or not leaves have to be removed from lawns. While proponents of not cleaning leaves enjoy the autumn colors and crisp crunch under their feet, the truth is that fallen leaves will damage or even kill your grass if they are not quickly removed. 

At Summit Lawns, we work hard to preserve your turf, so we understand the importance of leaf removal. We hope this article illustrates why you and your lawn need a leaf cleanup service! 

Your Grass Needs To Breathe!

When leaves fall to the ground and are allowed to accumulate, your lawn suffers! Like any type of plant, grass needs access to sunlight, air, water, and nutrients. A layer of fallen leaves will suppress growth and block vital nutrition from reaching your lawn. Sunlight and air are necessary to the process of photosynthesis, and water and nutrients in the soil help develop stronger roots. As your turf becomes nutrient deficient due to fallen foliage, your lawn will start developing bare or thin patches of grass, which can attract weeds and pests.

Lawn Health (1)
Direct sunlight on a healthy lawn

Removing leaves before they have a chance to hinder grass growth and nutritional intake is crucial to the health of your lawn. Regular and prompt leaf cleanup removes blockages across your lawn so that sunlight and nutrition can improve your lawn’s soil and help your grass grow. The next time you see leaves covering every inch of green in your lawn, know that your grass is dying underneath those leaves.

Leaves Can Spread Disease

Fungal lawn diseases can spread through a variety of ways, but diseased leaves falling onto a lawn is one of the most common sources of fungal infection. It is easy to ignore only a few leaves strewn sporadically across your turf, but it only takes one infected leaf touching down onto your grass to spread disease. Once harmful fungi begin to spread across your lawn, simple tasks like walking on your grass or mowing can transfer fungi even further and faster. Grass and plants will begin to lose color and vibrancy as the disease spreads.

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Snow mold caused by leaf accumulation

Aside from sick leaves spreading their diseases, even non-infected leaves can lead to conditions that create harmful mold and spread fungi. As more and more leaves accumulate, moisture has a difficult time evaporating from your lawn. Especially after rainfall or heavy morning dew, a thick layer of fallen leaves creates the perfect environment for fungi to develop and infect your grass and plants. Removing leaves as quickly as possible after they fall is the best way to avoid issues caused by disease.

Leaf Litter Hides Pests

If you do not want spiders, snakes, or other dangerous creatures lurking in your yard, leaf cleanup is always a good place to start! Though pests are present in virtually every yard, the natural shelter created by fallen leaves attracts many types of pests that perhaps wouldn’t be visiting your lawn otherwise. Many dangerous hunter spiders search their entire lives for effective camouflage and shelter, and snakes are drawn to areas where they can hide in the grass. If you allow leaves to build up and form a barrier atop your grass, there may be no way to know if you are encountering a dangerous pest until it’s too late!

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Tick warning sign in leaf-covered forest

Heavy leaf coverage can lead to thatch buildup, which leads to soil compaction. Compacted soil and excess thatch are known for forming puddles and attracting mosquitoes. Mosquitoes, as well as other bugs, can spread diseases that could land you or your loved ones in the hospital. Leaf cleanup is a simple task you can perform to avoid such dangers that both your grass and your neighbors will appreciate!

Leaf Cleanup Methods

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Leaf blower pushing leaves to the curb

Raking

Tried and true, raking leaves is a simple and effective way to clean leaves off your lawn. Raking leaves into piles makes bagging them for disposal much easier. This method is best used on smaller properties that do not have widespread leaf coverage. Raking also comes with the added benefit of thatch breakup, which makes your lawn even healthier after raking is complete.

Leaf Blowing

If you have a large property that sees many leaves every year, a leaf blower might be a more effective tool than a rake. Raking can be tedious to perform on larger yards, but leaf blowing can get the job done in a fraction of the time. Leaves are often blown onto street curbs for municipal leaf collections, but any use of a leaf blower will make your life easier!

Leaf Vacuuming

Leaves frequently make their way into tight crevices that are not so easy to reach. Unfortunately, if you have any grass or plants growing in such areas, leaves can cause the same damage if they are not removed. When rakes and leaf blowers can’t reach a certain area, a leaf vacuum is your best bet! Leaf vacuums suck up leaves that can not be reached with other tools so that every inch of your yard can be healthy and leaf free!

Leaf Mulching

Mulching or shredding leaves can be performed as easily as mowing over the fallen leaves, and it is an easy way to clean your yard. Some people do not like this method because you could end up mulching diseased leaves and spreading the disease across your lawn. Nevertheless, shredding leaves instead of picking them up is quick, and it can even introduce some additional nutrition into the soil. Just make sure to check for larger debris that may be hiding before mowing over leaves. 

Tarp Cleanup

More and more people seem to be utilizing tarps for leaf removal in recent years, and it is not difficult to see why! Instead of raking or blowing leaves into many smaller piles, leaves can be collected onto a large tarp that can then be dragged to the site of disposal. Using a tarp makes leaf cleanup much easier for your body and your landscaping equipment.

When To Remove Leaves

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Autumn colors announcing leaf cleanup season

Fall

Obviously, leaves fall during the season of fall, so this is the most important time to remove leaves. You want to make sure your lawn is as clean as possible before winter arrives. Snow falling on top of leaves will likely kill your grass by spring, and snow mold can set in quickly if leaves are not removed in time. Fall leaf cleanup is all about making sure your lawn survives the harsh winter weather so that your grass will flourish when spring arrives.

Spring

Nobody is perfect, and some leaves can occasionally be missed during fall cleanup. As early as possible during spring, and perhaps even during winter, any leaves or debris that were missed in fall need to be removed. As your lawn comes out of dormancy in spring, you want to make sure there is nothing obstructing healthy growth. Make sure your lawn is as spotless as possible to get the growing season started the right way!

Before Mowing

Mowing over tree debris can be very dangerous. Twigs and bark can get caught under a lawn mower’s blades and turn into sharp projectiles. Mowing over debris may also lead to less clean cuts, which will damage your grass. Removing leaves and tree debris prior to mowing ensures that your lawn care routines remain as safe and effective as possible.

Before Fertilizing

Fertilizing goes hand in hand with watering, both of which are disturbed by the presence of leaves on your lawn. If leaves are not removed before fertilizing and watering, your lawn may not be able to absorb the maximum amount of nourishment from these sources. Leaf cleanup should always be performed, when necessary, before any product or water is applied.

After Leaves Dry

While it is always best to remove leaves before they become wet, wet leaves should be allowed to dry before they are removed. Wet leaves will break apart, clump together, and spread mildew all over your lawn, not to mention what a nightmare it is to bag wet leaves. If you forgot to clean your yard and rain leads to wet leaves on your grass, it is always best to let them dry, but make sure they are removed immediately after drying. 

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