Should You Leave Fallen Leaves On Your Lawn? - Backyard Boss
We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.

Should You Leave Fallen Leaves On Your Lawn?

Leaves are falling from the trees, which can only mean one thing: autumn is in full swing! All those gorgeous red and orange leaves on the ground can be a bit of a pain to clean up, but should you really be raking and discarding them? Or is it better to leave them there and let nature take its course?

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of both lawn care options so you can make the best decision for your lush yard. Keep reading for more information – you might just learn some helpful tips!

Leaving Your Leaves – Yay or Nay?

Raking Fallen Leaves
Image credits: Yuliia Gornostaieva via Shutterstock

Trees shed their leaves as part of a natural process called abscission. This helps them prepare for winter by ridding themselves of any unneeded materials. For most types of trees, this process typically happens in autumn when days start getting shorter and temperatures begin to drop. While this occurs, a natural home is made on the ground for wildlife. Fallen leaves form an important part of the ecosystem, providing shelter and food to wildlife in your backyard. From salamanders to turtles and toads to birds, they find home in fallen leaves. Invertebrates such as snails, spiders, beetles, and worms also benefit. Not to mention, caterpillars hibernate in fallen leaves before re-emerging in the spring as moths and butterfly.

One key advantage is that fallen leaves are full of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, that help fertilize your lawn while also suppressing weeds. This provides great benefits for your lawn, including improved quality in the spring. One caveat- to avoid smothering your lawn, mulching or shredding the leaves with a lawn mower is recommended. However, be careful to remove twigs and branches before mowing. They can be a hazard!

Additionally, bagged leaves are a common sight in landfills across the country. Many people choose to simply bag up their fallen leaves and toss them out with the trash every year. While this may seem like an easy solution, it is actually having negative impacts on our environment. These bags take a long time to decompose and end up filling landfills. They pollute our soil and water with methane, contributing to climate change.

Finally, leaving leaves on the lawn is a great way to reduce noise pollution from electric leaf blowers. Not only does it save you time and money, but it also helps by keeping unnecessary noise pollution out of our neighborhoods.

Cons Of Leaving Your Leaves on Your Lawn

Raked up fall leaves
Image credits: Peggychoucair via Pixabay

At the same time, however, there are also some downsides to leaving fallen leaves on your lawn. For one, if you have a large yard full of trees, then all those fallen leaves can quickly build up and become a nuisance. In addition, raking up your leaves can help prevent illness in your plants by minimizing the risk of disease-causing organisms, such as bacterial or fungal leaf spot.

And leaves don’t just stay on your lawn, they get swept into storm drains when they’re blown by the wind. Stormwater drains lead to creeks, rivers, lakes, and oceans; If there are too many leaves in these waterways, it can cause a blockage or an increase in nitrogen and phosphorus levels. These chemicals are released during the decomposition process of decaying leaves. Having too many leaves in the waterways can lead to algae growth, depleting the oxygen level in the water, and causing aquatic life to die.

Additionally, not raking the leaves off your lawn can cause serious damage to your grass, as it prevents photosynthesis from taking place and hinders growth. Without photosynthesis, your lawn is unable to capture light energy from the sun and produce oxygen. This not only compromises your lawn growth but also lowers its ability to thrive in general.

So, what’s the best approach? Ultimately, the decision will depend on your specific situation and what you are most comfortable with. However, if you do decide to leave fallen leaves on your lawn, it’s important to keep a close eye on them throughout the winter months. Take action if you see any storm drain blockages or signs of stress.

How To Dispose of Fallen Leaves

a gardener raking the front yard with leaves in a bin
Image credits: Laura Bartlett via Shutterstock

Raking up fallen leaves can be a huge pain, but it’s crucial to keep your walkway and sidewalk safe from potential accidents and keep waterways healthy. Not only do unraked leaves create a slippery surface, but they can harbor mold spores and pests in dense piles. To prevent these problems, try using compostable bags to contain the leaves you rake up.

If you have room for a compost pile in your yard, the best way to dispose of shredded leaves is by adding them in there. The compost will help enrich your soil when planting new flowers or vegetables.

If you don’t have space for a compost pile, consider taking some of your raked-up leaves to your local community garden. Other gardeners will be happy to put them to good use. Additionally, there are plenty of other things you can do with fallen leaves. You can stuff your own scarecrow, make leaf mold, or create fun crafting games with the family!

Take A Sigh of Re-Leaf

As you can see there are both pros and cons to leaving fallen leaves on your lawn during the winter months. Whatever decision you make, just be sure to stay vigilant throughout the colder weather in order to protect your lawn from damage.​

So, what are your thoughts on leaving fallen leaves on your lawn? Do you think it’s a good idea, or do you prefer to clear them away? Leave a comment below and don’t forget to share with your family and friends!