Fall is here in all its glory. Leaf-peepers, the informal term for people that travel to view and photograph the colorful splendor of autumn foliage, are in their element right now. There are leaf tracking maps online that help these adventurers know when and where the best colors can be spotted. Soon though, those leaves will fall from their branches to the ground below and we will have to switch from photographing them to cleaning them up.
Even here in Northern Florida, we’re not immune to the changing of the seasons, which means that our customers often ask us what to do with leaves that have fallen in their yards. Let’s unpack five of the options you have for taking care of leaves this fall.
But first and most importantly, don’t just “leaf” them be
Forgive our pun, please. Homeowners may be tempted to leave the leaves right where they fall. After all, they’re organic and will break down, right?
Eventually yes, they will break down. But this isn’t the end of the story. Have you ever heard of thatch? It’s a clump of the dead, organic material that essentially suffocates your lawn. It arises when grass clippings congregate in sections along with the remnants of other dead materials.
Thatch can be detrimental to your lawn’s health over time. And likewise, a thick covering of dead leaves in your yard will act in the exact same way. Fallen leaves will lead to even bigger issues in the spring: dead grass. Whether as a result of killing your lawn over the winter months or breaking down and adding to the already existing thatch, you should clean your leaves off of your lawn regularly.
And of course, “leafing them be” means that your lawn won’t be as gorgeous when Santa pays a visit to our area in a few months. You want your yard to stand out this holiday season, and removing your leaves is one way you can accomplish that goal.
Mow your leaf waste into mulch
In some situations, leaving them on the lawn can be a good thing —if you mulch them up that is. When you mow them during your normal lawn care routine, you could potentially simply mow over the leaves. We recommend this option only if a small number of leaves have fallen, and if you mow regularly enough that you’re not mowing over an entire tree’s worth of leaves at once.
Why does it need to be in smaller quantities? Doesn’t a mulching lawn mower do the job regardless? Unfortunately, no. You need the leaves to be in small pieces. This is so that they don’t sit on your grass and cause damage the way that a thick, untouched layer will. Instead, these smaller chunks will decay and release phosphorous that can then fertilize your lawn, leading to lush, green grass next season. This one is an environmentally conscious clean-up option.
Pick up some yard waste bags
Some waste management companies and municipalities provide yard waste bags for homeowners to bag up leaves for removal. If you don’t have this option, they are also readily available at any hardware or big-box retail store, though you’ll want to be sure you choose the appropriate option for your town.
First, rake your leaves onto a tarp. Then, use it to easily transfer all of the leaves into your trash bags. For those areas that offer community pickup, put these bags out with your weekly trash or curbside collection. And of course, relax until it’s time to do it again! After all, the never-ending cycle of falling leaves during this time of year is “fun” like that, right?
Deposit them in a wooded area (with permission!)
Wooded areas are another great alternative if you’re wondering what to do with leaves as you clean them up this fall. Do you have a friend or neighbor who has a large wooded area attached to their property (or do you own one yourself)? If so, spreading these out throughout the woods serves a couple of purposes.
One, it gets the leaves off of your yard, giving you a picture-perfect lawn this winter season. Two, it helps to contribute to the health and longevity of our state’s wooded areas. Remember, animals will be looking for places to migrate to as the weather changes, and spreading leaves in wooded areas helps to support Mother Nature.
Use a tiller and add them to your vegetable patch
Carbon is another byproduct generated by decaying leaves. In the composting and gardening world, carbon helps to break down food scraps, turning them into “black gold”. This option has multiple benefits.
The first one is the creation of organic fertilizer that helps to make your garden bloom and produce nutritious soil conducive to plant growth. Another is less garbage for your waste company to collect, which is better for the environment as well!
Naturally, you won’t lay an entire tree’s worth of leaves on your vegetable patches. But for some of it, this is yet another eco-friendly solution.
Or, use a tiller and add them to your shrub beds
Just like leaving mulched leaves on your lawn or adding mulched leaves to a garden, raking leaves into your shrub beds can act as a natural form of mulch as well. Typically mulch is made from various kinds of organic and non-organic materials. Its purpose is mainly to control weeds, keep soil from eroding, retain moisture at plant roots, and in the case of organic mulches, encourage earthworms to take up residence in your beds (the outside ones, that is!).
Work with the Gainesville lawn care service you’ve come to rely on!
The best option for Gainesville (and of course, the surrounding communities) customers is to work with a lawn care service such as Sun Power Lawn Care. For those looking for a one-time clean-up option, we’ve got you covered. And for our ongoing customers, our Prestige Package is exactly what you’re looking for!
Do you have any questions or would you like to get started with a free quote? Then send us a message and we’ll follow up with a time to go over your lawn care needs and how we can help!
Here are some great resources to help your lawn look its best: