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Why Rake Leaves in the Fall?

When autumn rolls around each year, folks head outside to corral and contain those pesky fallen leaves, but why? Maybe you consider a clean, manicured lawn more attractive, but if you don't, is there any reason to rake leaves in the fall? While there are good reasons to wrangle those leaves, there are also a few reasons why it may not be as important as you thought--in some cases, raking may be harmful to the environment.
  1. Raking Grows Healthy Lawns

    • To thrive, grass needs ample sunlight, air and water. A thick layer of leaves--especially wet ones--can suffocate your lawn and leave it looking less than lush when spring arrives. Cool-season grass varieties in particular require plenty of sunlight during autumn, when they take in enough nutrients to survive the winter. A layer of leaves on your lawn also acts as a breeding ground for mold and insects, which can ultimately lead to a variety of lawn diseases.

    Making It Easier

    • Anyone who has raked up leaves knows it can be strenuous, but you can make this task less of a chore. Today's rakes offer comfortable grips to avoid blistered hands. Ergonomically designed handles reduce back strain, and some rakes even feature special tines that resist clogging to keep you working, not picking leaves out of your equipment. If you don't mind the noise, consider using a leaf blower to get the benefits of raking without breaking your back.

    The Debate

    • While most landscaping professionals advise homeowners to rake leaves off their lawns, another school of thought contends that raking is unnecessary and potentially harmful to the environment. Raking leaves to the curb can allow them to enter storm drains and waterways, increasing algae in the water and decreasing the amount of oxygen available to fish, writes Maura Judkis in "U.S. News & World Report." Leaves that wind up in landfills release harmful gases as they decompose, and the plastic bags often used to collect them just add to the problem.

    Other Options

    • If you like the appearance of a tidy lawn, you have some options to make use of your leaves instead of sending them to the landfill. When leaves are dry and crunchy, simply mow over them to chop them into small pieces that provide quick, unobtrusive nutrients for your lawn. Consider collecting some of the leaves to use as an effective mulch around trees and plants, or compost your leaves to use in the garden later.