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Autumn Leaves and Your Lawn’s Health

While it may be hard to believe, it’s that time of year again! Nature has turned the hardwood trees throughout the Northeast into a brilliant display of warm, autumn color. The trees begin to prepare for winter by shedding their leaves and hardening off the tender twigs to withstand the upcoming winter weather.

How the Changing Seasons Affects Your Lawn

It might sound a little odd, but your lawn is also beginning to prepare for the upcoming winter. If you’ve got ornamental grass plants, they’re working very hard to make as much food as possible and store it away. This food is then used throughout the winter to maintain plant health and provide energy until the “green up” period in spring.

Those Autumn Leaves Can Do Some Damage

In order to manufacture this food, grass plants need a nutrient source (fertilizer), water, and sunlight. If just one of these three is missing, the photosynthesis process stops and no food can be made. Leaves coating the grass surface inhibit sunlight from getting to the grass plants and slow down or stop the process altogether. This can cause plants to suffer in harsh winter weather and may prevent them from returning in spring.

Leaves can also coat a lawn so heavily that they can have a smothering effect on the grass plants. Leaves, when wet, can be heavy enough to cause actual damage to grass plants. Over time, wet leaves also begin to break down, a process that can also be detrimental to grass plants. As leaves decay, bacteria and fungi develop to break down the leaf tissue, but these organisms may also attack grass blade tissue. These wet leaves must be removed as quickly as possible to protect your lawn.

Leaves can be mulched when mowing, but any piles or lines of cut up leaves should be dispersed throughout the lawn area or removed. While fallen leaves can definitely be a beautiful sight, they have the potential to make your lawn a lot less beautiful come spring.

Have a picturesque autumn landscape? Share it in the comments (then be sure to pick those leaves up)!

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