It may be difficult to imagine the shorter days and cooler temperatures of fall when we’re still sitting at the end of a hot summer. One of these days, though, we’ll wake up and see the yard covered in leaves. Surely there’s an easier way to handle those leaves from your shedding tree!
You’re in luck—we’ve gathered five tips for an easier fall so that you can work smarter, not harder.
- First of all, why should I clean up my leaves at all?
You might be tempted to leave them where they lie. After all, they can just compost back into the yard and provide fertilizer for next year, right? You’d be wrong! Clearing away the leaves off your lawn is much better for the health of your grass and will result in a greener, thicker lawn come springtime. The old leaves on the grass form a perfect environment for all kinds of mold, bacteria, and pests and may shelter weeds that you don’t want to grow in the middle of your yard. Those leaves may be covering up seedlings or shoots from other trees that could be placed poorly in your yard. By leaving the leaves there, you could also kill off the grass itself so that it might become patchy.
Also, getting enough sunlight on your lawn is critical at this time of year, as the grass is preparing to store up energy reserves that will get it through the winter. If you’re aiming to have a healthy green lawn next spring, it’s imperative that you clear the leaves off your lawn in the fall.
- How often should it be done?
This is a little more flexible. Some lawn-care places will tell you once a week, but there’s no need to keep a strict schedule. One thing is for certain, if you do a little bit at a time, the job will be easier to do each time, rather than if you save it up and do it all at once. Creating a habit will be good for you (and your back) and the rest of your yard.
If you have a family (or, hey, a bunch of friends or roommates), one thing you can do is to make a game of it. Who can make the biggest pile of leaves in fifteen minutes? What better way to complete a chore than to have some fun and make some memories?
One thing to keep in mind is that it will also be easier to rake the leaves up if you do it before it rains. If the leaves are water-logged, they will be heavier and more difficult to manage. If you’re working in a light breeze, try to rake in the same direction the wind is blowing. Working smarter, not harder!
- What should I do with my leaves after I’ve raked them?
The first thing you should know is that it’s usually not best to burn them. In recent years, this has become a serious fire hazard and has contributed to house fires and wildfires. Instead, you can shred your gathered leaves for composting or collect them for curbside pickup if you live in a city that provides that service. If you don’t have a shredder, you can run over your leaf pile with your lawnmower. Adjust the blades to the highest setting and mow right over the pile. Then you can shovel the mulch into your compost heap, along with the eggshells and coffee grounds.
- What tools should I use?
Everyone has a rake in their toolshed, but it may be old and difficult to handle, and maybe part of the reason you don’t want to rake in the first place. Your back will thank you if you take stock of what you have and replace tools that may be past their prime. Make sure that your rake is tall enough so that you can reach the leaves without having to stoop.
You can even invest in a leaf rake that’s just for raking leaves, rather than a gardening rake. A leaf rake has tines that are a little more lightweight and flexible, which puts less pressure on your arms and back when you pull the rake toward you. Garden rakes are more heavy-duty so that they can move through soil. If you’re going to get a new leaf rake, check out the kinds that have ergonomic handles—they’re much better for your hands. Invest in some good gardening or work gloves to prevent blisters.
Consider how much yard you have, though. If you have a large property, maybe it would be better to invest in a leaf blower. They may be noisy, but they can be useful if you have a large area you want to maintain.
- Now that I’ve raked up all my leaves for the year, what maintenance do I need to perform on my trees?
This is a great exercise to do every year, especially since there aren’t any leaves getting in your way. Any potential problems with your trees should be easily visible. Check to see if there are any large limbs that have cracks in them. Do you see any trees with lichen that should be cleaned off? If your yard has a history of insects or other pests, now would be a good time to spray for them.
Do you have any younger trees or trees that haven’t completely established themselves yet? They could be at risk for winter sun-scald. Without the protective layer of leaves around them, the bark could be damaged by the winter sun. Wrap these trees in paper tree wrap.
Then, give all your trees a good fertilizing: scatter it around the trunks of the trees, without piling it against the trunks themselves. There should be a six-inch gap between the fertilizer and the trunk.
If you have any follow-up questions for autumn tree maintenance, look no further than your friends at Mr. Tree Service. Our certified arborists can help you make decisions and spot trouble before it starts. Contact us today to schedule a visit.