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Samantha Mazzotta: Your lawn will thank you for raking leaves

Posted: November 10, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 10, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Q: I’m not thrilled with all the leaves piling up in my yard. Do you have any tips to make fall cleanup easier? Why can’t I just leave them where they lie?

Barbara in Dover, N.H.

A: Raking leaves can be a tedious task, and gets exhausting when dealing with a large yard with lots of trees. During the fall season, a homeowner could wind up raking the yard at least once a week.

Unfortunately, leaving those leaves to pile up will wreak havoc on your lawn. First, the coating of leaves prevents air and sun from reaching grass directly, but lets rainwater trickle down, creating a harsh environment for grass. Second, leaves are filled with alkaline compounds that can damage the grass. These factors make leaves a great mulch ingredient, because you typically put mulch where you don’t want grass or weeds to grow. You don’t want a heavy coating of leaf mulch on your lawn, though.

So, you’ve got to clean up those fallen leaves eventually. Here’s a few ideas to make the task somewhat easier.

- Pick up the first light coating of leaves while mowing the lawn, with the bag attached.

- Borrow or rent a leaf blower to tackle larger areas with a moderate to heavy coating of leaves. Carefully blow the leaves into rough piles around the lawn.

- Use your rake to finish a large leaf cleanup job: pile the leaves closer together, or use the rake to shift leaves into a bag or wheelbarrow for disposal elsewhere.

- Add leaves to your compost pile. Fall is a favorite time for homeowners who keep compost piles because leaves add bulk to their compost and can help balance nutrients and acidity or alkalinity if used in the right amounts.

Home tip: Watch out for that noisy leaf blower. Be aware of any local noise ordinances before using a leaf blower and try to avoid using it before 10 a.m. most days. Your neighbors will thank you.

Send your questions or comments to, or write This Is a Hammer, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.


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