Colorful leaves on a lawn.

Don’t Let Autumn Leaves Suffocate Your Lawn This Season

You may have come across what some experts say about the benefits of leaving fallen leaves on lawn areas, including nourishing the grass. These advantages can be great news, especially for those who dislike raking leaves in autumn. But before you remove raking from your to-do list this season, find out what really happens if you leave autumn leaves on your lawn.

Six Things That Can Happen If You Don’t Rake Fallen Autumn Leaves on Your Lawn

Although some fallen leaves look pretty lying on your lawn, it’s best not to leave them there. A thick layer of leaves can hurt your turf in various ways.

1. A Thick Layer of Fallen Leaves Prevents Sunlight From Reaching Your Lawn

Grass growth is heavily dependent on the amount of sunlight it receives. Even shade-tolerant grass requires at least four hours of direct sun exposure to grow. Grasses use sunlight to produce food and chlorophyll, a pigment that gives grass its green color. Therefore, grass deprived of sunlight will likely starve and turn brown.

Thick canopies aren’t the only obstacles preventing your lawn from getting the right amount of sunlight. Thick layers of fallen leaves that accumulate throughout autumn can also deprive your grass of its much-needed sunlight. That’s why getting rid of leaves by raking or whatever method of leaf removal you prefer is an important part of lawn care.

2. Dead Leaves Can Hinder the Exchange of Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen

Oxygen is essential for the health of your grass, just as it is for any living organism. When a blanket of fallen leaves covers your lawn, it creates a barrier that limits the exchange of oxygen between the atmosphere and the soil.

As a result, the grass beneath the leaves may suffocate, leading to a weakened root system and, eventually, a dying lawn. Raking away these leaves allows your lawn to breathe freely, ensuring it receives the oxygen it needs to thrive.

3. A Thick Layer of Fallen Leaves Traps Moisture, Causing Various Lawn Diseases

Lawns require a sufficient amount of water to stay healthy. But if it rains or you water when there is a thick layer of leaves on the lawn, any excess water will get trapped and won’t evaporate. Damp fallen leaves then invite the growth of destructive fungi. So, aside from suffocating your lawn, thick layers of leaves left over the top of the grass can also cause lawn diseases.

If you notice signs of diseases in your lawn, immediately contact an expert in lawn care near you to prevent the problem from worsening. To protect your lawn from diseases caused by moisture, make sure to remove leaves when they are still dry. Also, practice watering in the morning to ensure there’s enough time for excess water to evaporate.

4. Too Many Leaves on Your Lawn Can Attract Pests

A thick layer of fallen leaves can become a cozy hiding place for pests and insects. The underside of fallen leaves can collect water that becomes stagnant. Stagnant water is a perfect place for female mosquitoes to lay hundreds of eggs. If you don’t remove the damp leaves, you’ll soon be dealing with a mosquito infestation.

Other pests that take advantage of leaf piles include ants and earwigs. Although these insects are not toxic or poisonous, don’t get too comfortable. Leaving a pile of leaves on your lawn may draw more problematic pests like voles, which can attract snakes.

5. Dry Piles of Leaves Are a Fire Hazard and Can Cause an Unexpected Blaze

A thick layer of fallen leaves can harm more than just your lawn. It can also become a risk to your property, family, and even your neighborhood. Dry fallen leaves are highly flammable. They can easily catch fire if they come into contact with a discarded cigarette or open flame. Once they catch fire, the flames can quickly spread to other flammable materials in your backyard, including your deck or home.

That’s why it is important to rake leaves up and dispose of them properly. You can bag them up or toss them in your compost bin. If you’re dealing with only a few dry leaves, consider shredding them into smaller pieces using your lawnmower and leaving them on your lawn to decompose naturally.

6. Your Neighbors Might Not Appreciate the Mess in Their Own Yards

Finally, consider the impact of unattended leaves on your neighbors. Leaves blown by the wind do not respect property lines. They can end up in unfortunate places: gutters, drains, and local waterways. Wind may blow the leaves onto sidewalks and pathways, where they can get wet and become a slip hazard.

Aside from that, leaving piles of leaves on your lawn can affect the curb appeal of your property. A lawn looks nicer without a thick layer of leaves on it.

Raking fallen leaves in autumn can be an awful lot of work. But this chore will help keep your lawn healthy and lush. So make sure to break out the rake and get rid of fallen leaves. If raking is too physically demanding, you can use other methods to remove leaves, like using a leaf blower. You can also use a lawnmower if the layer of leaves is thin.

Is It Bad to Leave Fall Leaves on Your Lawn?

We’ve already discussed the reasons to clear fallen leaves on your lawn. However, it is important to note that the impact of fallen leaves on your lawn varies depending on the amount. A thick layer of leaves is bad, but having a few scattered around won’t hurt. Actually, leaving some leaves on your lawn offers some benefits.

The leaves will gradually break down and compost right at the base of your grass. Decomposing leaves return nutrients to the soil, which your lawn can use the following spring. If you have a leaf shredder, consider mulching leaves into the lawn. Breaking up leaves speeds up the decomposition process. In addition, smaller pieces will be less likely to get blown away to the curb.

When Should You Rake Up Fallen Leaves?

Some people prefer to rake as the leaves fall, while other homeowners start raking when all the leaves have fallen to the ground. It generally depends on your preferences and the number of trees around your property.

But no matter your preferred schedule, it is best to start removing leaves while they are still dry. Matted and soggy leaves are harder to remove. Also, make sure to rake the leaves before the first frost of the early winter season. If there are only a few fallen leaves, you may skip raking altogether and let them decompose where they fall.

Keep Your Lawn Thriving With Organic Lawn Care

Leaf removal is just one vital part of lawn care in autumn. Your lawn will also need a sufficient supply of nutrients to withstand the winter and flourish in the spring. If the soil is compacted, aeration may be necessary.

No matter what your lawn needs, LawnMart has everything covered. LawnMart offers comprehensive lawn care services that keep your lawn healthy and ready for the winter. You also need not worry about any adverse effects of chemicals typically used to keep lawns lush and green because our team uses only natural products and methods.

To find out how we can help transform your lawn, feel free to call us today. We also offer free quotes.

Michael Schäfer

President – LawnMart Inc.

Years of Experience: 31 Years

  • Land Class 1 and 3 Licenses Since 1993
  • Pest Control Operator License Since 1995
  • PIC Accredited Pest Technician Examiner Since 2004
  • Biting Flies Control License Since 2020

Michael Schäfer is President and Founder of LawnMart Inc. After training privately under Dr. Larry Whiddell of Ohio State University, he became a Lawn Technician at Barefoot Grass Lawn Services (1993) and leveled up to Tree/Shrub Care Manager before taking over all Canadian operations as Area Manager. In 1996, Michael founded LawnMart Inc., which has since grown into a multi-award-winning company that cares for thousands of lawns in the Golden Horseshoe area.