Can Fall Leaves Kill Grass?

According to most lawn care experts, allowing fall leaves to remain on your lawn over winter will most likely result in reseeding in the spring.

When left unattended, fallen leaves will accumulate and form a dense mass that can damage or kill grass and plants. Leaves reduce water evaporation and block sunlight.

These damp, moist conditions encourage mold, fungus, and other diseases to grow – which can be very difficult to cure and do major damage to your grass.

In less than a year, it can easily wipe out a once-healthy lawn. Under dry conditions, piles of fallen leaves can pose a fire hazard.

So what is the most effective method of dealing with fallen fall leaves?

Well, you have two main options: mulching and composting.

Mulching Fallen Leaves

Today, most fallen leaves are mulched with mulching lawn mowers.

Must mowers have the ability to mulch leaves and grass with the addition of a chute blocker and mulching blades.

Can Mulching Leaves Kill Grass?

No, mulching leaves will not kill the grass. In fact, it has the opposite effect and helps strengthen your lawn.

This natural form of mulch can be beneficial to your lawn because it will eventually decompose into a compost that is abundant in nutrients, like nitrogen.

Leaves should be mulched regularly throughout the fall to prevent buildup from occurring.  Plus, mulching lots of leaves at once is hard on your mower and may clump up on your lawn.

Leaf mulch tends to decompose more quickly in the early to mid-fall when the average temperature is warmer.

While leaf mulch can be beneficial to your lawn, no more than a 1-inch layer of mulch should be allowed to accrue at once. If more than an inch accumulates, there is a risk that the microbes in the uncomposted leaves could begin to compete with your grass for nitrogen.

This can lessen the positive effects of the mulch.

If you have an overabundance of leaves on your lawn, then you may need to consider other methods of leaf removal.

Composting Leaves

If you decided to collect the fallen leaves and add them to a compost bin, the compost they form generally offers greater immediate benefits than mulched leaves.

Composted leaves will add phosphorous and potassium to the soil. In addition, they will also increase the soil’s ability to drain itself and retain water.

The downside to composting vs mulching is it takes longer and is much harder work.  Raking, collecting, etc., is not easy work.

While leaves have traditionally been composted in piles, an increasing number of people are choosing to use compost drums, which cuts the amount of time required to compost in half.

A compost drum should be filled two-thirds of the way with leaves, 1/4th a cup of nitrogen fertilizer, and then moistened. The drum will need to be turned once or twice every three to four days.

Don’t Forget to Mow Your Lawn

Not only is it important to remove fallen leaves from your lawn, don’t forget to mow.

You don’t want to go into the winter months with really long grass.  Long grass will become matted down, which invites disease and bacteria to form.

Finally, it is a common misconception that adding moisture to your lawn during the cold months will harm it. Even if your lawn is dormant, it’s still a good idea to make sure it gets the proper amount of water.

If rain or snow or snow doesn’t occur, you should consider watering it.  It may seem strange to water your lawn during the winter months, but it really does help get it ready for spring.

Proper lawn care doesn’t stop once fall and winter arrive, and doing your part now will ensure that you have a vital, healthy, and beautiful lawn once springtime rolls around.