They call it fall for a
good reason: autumn leaves dropping everywhere, including the lawn. Weekly raking can be a
chore, but many advocate it as healthier for the grass below. Others scoff, saying wait
awhile, rake a lot at once and be done with it.
Whats best for turfgrass? Like most garden practices, leaf
raking is best done in moderation. If half the lawn is covered, or if a good part of it is
deep with leaves, rake to prevent excessively damp and shady conditions in the lawn. But
make it easy on yourself, too. Youll certainly be composting those leaves for use
later as mulch and fertilizer. When the leaves pile up, rake and compost them in large
bunches, about 60 gallons at a time. Thats the same as two large plastic leaf bags,
and plenty to rake at once. Add the dying summer annuals youre pulling out now,
sprinkle on a dusting of cottonseed meal, and turn the pile once a month.
To rake or blow, that is often the question, and both have their
place. Blowers make short work of dry leaves, and the newest models do make less noise.
But damp leaves and tight spaces can render blowers useless; then its time to pick a
rake. Bamboo, metal, or plastic, choose one with wide teeth to gather leaves quickly
without scratching too deeply into your turfgrass. Buy rakes with long handles for easy
reaching and padding for comfort. And if raking has been tough on your hands, look for
ergonomic designs with curved handles.
If yours is a mulching mower, leaves are less of a problem since
most are cut fine in the last few mowings of the season. However, dont mow the lawn
just to mulch the leaves. Once youve stopped mowing, start raking.