We all know why they call it Fall – the beautiful natural art show that the foliage provides for us in Western New York ends with the leaves taking a gentle bow…onto our driveways, our sidewalks, our lawns. Hey, every good show comes with a price and that price in autumn is the ritual of raking the leaves. It’s important to keep these autumn raking tips in mind when preparing for the end of the fall season!
Raking in the past meant just that – usually using a rake with thin metal tines that didn’t make it through too many jobs before they bent and tangled and were next to useless long before the leaves ended their annual airdrop. But it is the 21st century and we have options and alternatives now: mulching, composting, and of course many people’s favorite tool, the leaf-blower. People have personal preferences for their method of choice: some love the environmental aspect of composting rather than having the leaves ending up bagged or in a burn pile or pick-up pile for the town service; others love the efficiency of a blower; some enjoy the physical activity of manually raking, while still others like hand-raking more for the Zen relaxation aspect – it’s kind of like meditation with motion.
Some folks even question the need to rake the leaves at all. And if you need the bare essential answer as to whether you have to remove the leaves, it’s no. But there are a lot of things you don’t HAVE to do that you should – brushing your hair and teeth come to mind. While you don’t have to do it, the choice not to comes with consequences. In the case of leaf removal, if you leave them on your lawn you risk a number of possible results that you may not want. If you let them sit all winter long, come spring you better remove them quickly or they will smother your grass and stunt its growth (which may make the true yardwork despisers out there think “Good, less grass to mow, too!”) Another thing that can occur if you let the leaves sit all winter is that snow mold disease can damage your yard. A third possible problem is that the yard that has been smothered under all the leaves all winter is more susceptible to damage from mice and voles when spring arrives. Cool weather grasses – which comprise the majority of lawns in the northern U.S. – revitalize their root systems in the cooler weather, and a blanket of leaves can hinder this important process.
If you do have a strong ecological bent or are ready to step up your level of commitment in that area, as mentioned above, composting is a good way to go. You are creating an organic fertilizer that will lead to a healthier lawn; thus, you are creating a positive cycle that will reinforce itself while enhancing the overall profile of your property. You can also make your own mulch by going over the leaves with your lawnmower/mulcher. You then mix in some wood chips and grass clippings, and you’re all set! Other options for your leaves include burning them as kindle in your wood-burning stove. Keep them in a bag in a cool, dry place, and every time you light your fireplace, use a handful. They’ll help your fire catch and also give off a pleasant aroma for the house. Many people also use leaves for decorative purposes. Check out ten beautiful leaf decorations here.
The leaves are going to come down, we know that, so be ready to gather and dispose of yours in whatever way works best for you. The leaf disposal information for Penfield can be found here. When you’re raking up the fallen foliage, don’t get agitated – just remember the beautiful show they gave us before their final curtain call!