Do you know what I realised the other day? Just how fickle us English-folk can be, especially when it comes to autumn. One minute, we’re loving the fact we can finally get all snuggly and go to bed at 9pm on the dot, and the next minute we’re complaining about how many spiced pumpkin products you can buy.
And that’s not even us at our most fickly (I’m pretty sure that’s not actually a word, but it should be, which is why I’m going to use it again… right now). The thing that makes us most fickly is the changing of the trees.
At first, we love nothing more than pointing at the red, orange and golden leaves, and making involuntary noises like, “ooooooh” and “awwwwww”, and then saying really semi-poetic things like, “you know what, autumn shows us just how beautiful it is to let go of things,” which is amazing. But then we see these gorgeous leaves fall from the branches, land in our gardens and cover our lawns in a thick carpet that kind of resembles that super-dated rug in granny’s living room.
Why is this a problem? Because it means you have to ask yourself that annual question of: Urgh, is it really necessary to rake them off the lawn, or can I just leave them? I mean, those big red maple leaf looking ones actually look quite pretty lying on the ground, do they not?
But then you see your neighbour, Keen Kevin, out there picking up every single one using a well-rehearsed rake-and-leaf-blower-combo and you feel a pang of guilt wobble about at the back of your belly. Well, I’m sorry to say, Keen Kevin is actually in the right this time, and here’s why:
1.It’s A Matter Of Health n’ Happiness, Not Just Being Neat
We know raking up leaves can seem like one of those chores that only applies to a) neat-freaks and b) those with way too much time on their hands, but there the real reason you should rake up your leaves is to do with your lawn’s health. To remove the sugar-coating and give it to your straight, here’s a gaggle of problems that could spring up if you let your leaves hang out on top of your grass:
- Lawns really, really need to “breathe” and fallen leaves stop that from happening. Whether they mean to be bullies or not, they’re suffocators.
- Leaving a mass of unshredded leaves on top of your lawn over winter will mean it gets smothered, and nothing likes being smothered (unless we’re talking about a cooked chicken breast being smothered in bbq sauce, cheese and bacon #hunterschicken).
- This layer of leaves could start inviting a bunch of pests and diseases over to your lawn, both of which are unwanted guests because they can start to cause other seriously bad problems like snow mold and brown patch. It’s not pretty.
- Because there is a layer of leaves covering your lawn, water is then blocked from getting through, nutrients can’t get to the roots, and there won’t be any air flow either, which are the three main pillars of maintaining a healthy lawn.
- The longer you leave these leaves lounging about, the more they will become matted together and that can prevent new grass blades from being able to grow next spring.
As you can see, there’s a whole bunch of epic reasons as to why you need to pull on your wellies, gloves and a thick coat, and then get out there with a rake. And, yet, these are just the tip of the iceberg.
2.Autumn Is Your Lawn’s Big Grow Time
Most grass in the UK is classified “cool-season grass”, which is because they are most active during the cooler months. That’s what autumn is. It’s home to the cooler months. It’s not hot but it’s not cool either, and because there is still plenty of sunlight, nutrients, and water kicking about, your grass is able to sort of regenerate itself at this time of year. It’s when your lawn is most able to set about strengthening its root system – that’s unless you let a thick layer of fallen leaves stop this from happening.
Yes, we know that carpet of burnt orange colours looks great on your Insta-stories, but these fallen leaves are depriving your grass of the one thing it needs more than anything else – sunlight. Imagine you trying to operate on a Monday morning without a strong, Sports Direct sized mug of coffee; that’s what you’re doing to your lawn because, if it’s not raked clear quickly, it will become shadowland grass, and no grass wants to become shadowland grass.
3.Good News: You Don’t Need To Go OTT
One of the reasons a lot of people canny be bothered to get their rake on is because they think they have to rake up every last leaf and that sounds like a bore. Thankfully, that is a major lawn misconception, especially when your lawn’s health is the focus. Sure, Keen Kevin might be tracking down every last stray leaf like he’s Dog The Bounty Hunter looking for fugitives, but that’s because Keen Kevin has a little bit of OCD when it comes to keeping a perfect lawn – not because he has to. The truth is: a few leftover leaves are fine. They aren’t going to hurt your lawn, especially if you’re going to get one final mow in before winter because your blades will shred those up nice and small.
Of course, the other thing you could do is get a leaf-mulching mower. Sure, they won’t get collected, but they’ll be shredded so finely, they’ll fall between the blades of your grass and magically become fertiliser. Or, if you don’t have a mulching-mower (and Keen Kev won’t let you borrow his), you could just use your normal mower with the bag-collector-thingy attached and then empty the contents into your compost pile. Either way, you’ll be on a no rake flex (as we heard some kids say once).