If you are like most Americans, you spend a few hours every Fall raking all of those beautiful multi colored leaves that have been discarded from the trees in your yard into a pile. Most of us scoop the leaves up and set them out to be dumped in a landfill with the rest of our garbage. Some of us take advantage of the free once a year recreational opportunity to jump in said pile before scooping it up to be taken out with the trash. Did you know that those fallen leaves are actually really healthy for your soil?
Letting nature run its course and letting the leaves remain where they are is a great way to amp up the health of your lawn! The fallen leaves will create a surface known as “leaf mold,” which is highly nutritious for both plants and grass. According to research from the Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware, Ohio, leaves are full of nutrients that help feed the soil and prepare it for the year ahead. They claim that leaves:
- Help soil retain moisture.
- Insulate plants against freezing temperatures.
- Create soft, crumbly dirt that allows plants to produce deeper roots.
- Feed worms, grubs and other bugs that help maintain good-quality soil.
These are the reasons that leaves are a common ingredient in compost piles. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Trees spend the entire year soaking up minerals and nutrients from the soil. All of those goodies are contained within the leaves. When those leaves fall to the ground, all of those minerals and nutrients are absorbed back into the soil which the trees will need in the coming year- and the process starts over! Leaves contain high levels of potassium, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorous and magnesium, which are all essential for healthy soil.
So skip the raking this year and let the natural cycle run its course. Your plants, trees and grass will stay healthy from one year to the next and your garden and yard will be more likely to remain strong, healthy and disease-free.
TIP: If your HOA requires that you rake up your leaves, relocate a few of them, creating a thin blanket over your garden in order to maintain their benefits!