Autumn solutions: rake, mulch, or leave the leaves?

It’s a question you might be asking yourself as the leaves start to fall: Should you leave them on your lawn, or clear them?
Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 7:03 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Enjoying the changing colors is the fun part of fall for a lot of people. The other side of that: cleaning up the leaves after they come down. But you don’t have to work as hard as you think you do.

“Just like anything else in excess, too much becomes harmful.”

That’s the word from Jenn Walton, who’s been in the landscaping business for more than twenty years. She’s the General Manager for Grounds One, a landscaping company in Toledo. She explains, “If you have too much thatch, ¾” approximately, or too much leaf debris remaining, air, sunlight, water and nutrients will have a very tough time penetrating and getting down to the root of the turf."

But that doesn’t mean that you have to remove every single leaf. In fact, mulching the leaves and leaving them in the grass can put important nutrients back into the soil. But you have to be careful.

Walton says, “If you do that, you’ll still want to remove the excess. So, you can leave some leaves on the lawn, but too many become harmful.”

Some plants can benefit from leftover leaves. Walton says, “Roses vary greatly in hardiness, meaning the type of temperatures they can tolerate over the winter. So, leaves are good around roses.”

But others don’t fare so well. “Perennials can get root rot from the soil around them remaining too wet. And if they do get root rot, you have to remove the perennial and that’s a total plant loss, usually,” she says.

If you live in Toledo and plan to put your leaves out to the curb yourself, the city says that leaf collection begins two weeks from today, on November 2. Back to you.

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