Experts Weigh In: Iowa Should Not Rake Leaves This Fall
Fall will forever and always be my favorite season of the year. Most of it has to do with the weather being almost perfect. In my opinion, there's nothing better than a sunny Saturday with temperatures in the 50s. You don't have to worry about the sweltering heat and humidity that we experience during Iowa's summer months and it's it's not quite winter jacket time. Fall is short-lived in Iowa and I wish it would stick around longer.
Another reason for loving the fall is the beautiful fall foliage. Some would consider fall a time when the universe paints the Midwest with all of the beautiful colors we see on the trees. Sadly, those leaves eventually lose their color and begin to fall off their trees and into your yard. These once-beautiful leaves end up becoming a bit of a nuisance. As they drop we start mulching, raking, sweeping, and blowing them into areas we want leaf-free.
What if I told you that you could skip all of the chores that are attached to raking leaves and you're supposed to just...leave them in your yard. Sounds a bit strange but according to experts, we should put the rakes away in the fall.
Leave the Leaves Alone?
According to USA Today, "experts" say that raking and removing leaves can actually be worse for your yard and for our planet. Supposedly, leaving some of the leaves in your yard can help fertilize your grass and other plants, leaves can provide shelter for animals and even help reduce emissions from landfills.
David Mizejewski is a naturalist for the National Wildlife Federation and he spoke to USA Today about the importance of leaving some of the leaves in your yard alone.
The leaves fall around the root zone of these plants, where they do things like suppress weeds or other plants from growing that would otherwise compete with the trees and the shrubs. They slowly break down and compost right there at the base of the of the tree of the shrub, right above its root zone, where they return nutrients that the plant can then recycle and reuse next spring.
Can You Run Them Over With A Lawn Mower?
This is something I have been extremely guilty of in my adult life. I'll be honest with you and I'm just being lazy. Why would I want to rake the leaves, bag them, and throw them away when I can just simply run them over with a lawn mower and turn them into leaf mulch? According to Maxim Schlossberg, who is an associate professor of turfgrass nutrition and soil fertility at Penn State, this isn't a bad idea at all. He told USA Today
Since they’re smaller, they're more rapidly dismantled and decomposed by microorganisms. And the whole recycling process of those nutrients being returned to the soil occurs more rapidly.
When Should You Remove The Leaves In Your Yard?
While leaving some of the leaves in your yard can be good for your grass and the environment, that doesn't necessarily mean you never should remove them. If the leaves begin to form a mat over your grass, you should begin to remove them once the temperatures start to cool. You don't need to bag and throw away every leaf in your yard as you could place them in a garden bed or rake them into a big pile and let them naturally break down.
David Mizejewski says it's okay to leave some leaves behind
Don’t get rid of every last single leaf that falls onto your property, if you can. There are great, easy things to do with them.
I don't know about you but the next time my wife mentions cleaning up the leaves from our backyard, I might tell her I'm helping save the planet by leaving them alone. I'm sure that will go over well...
11 Awesome Iowa Cabins to Check Out This Fall & Winter
Gallery Credit: Courtlin