How does it work?
Trees have developed a relationship with their leaves to protect their roots and soil during the winter from cold and other damage. The resources left in leaves after shedding them in the fall also gets recycled into the soil. In fact, one of the definitions of an old growth forest is a heavy layer of “duff,” which is a layer of accumulated leaves on the forest floor, to protect the health of trees and soil.
What can I do?
While we are in winter’s grip right now, next fall, consider:
- Place leaves in areas without lawn to recycle naturally.
- In areas of lawn, use a lawnmower or a specialized mulcher to chop the leaves into the lawn. Not only will this revitalize your lawn, it will also provide nutrients to the roots underneath the lawn.
- In landscaped areas, shake leaves off shrubs and permanent plants. There is no need to mulch the leaves in these areas.
- Additionally, using leaf mulch can be a much more effective way to improve the health of your trees. So even if you do not wish to leave leaves on your lawn, this can be stored and used later to improve the soil near your trees. Keep in mind to keep the mulch off the trunk, but the immediate root zone around the tree can always benefit from extra leaf mulch.
In some situations, where the leaf cover is so thick no sun can get to the grass, you will have to either pile some leaves in a designated area or have it taken away, but most of the time, you can recycle leaves on your or your neighbor’s property (with their permission, of course).
So stop raking, and start mulching!
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