After the heat of summer, fall brings a needed temperature relief for both plants and their caretakers. Yet fall brings a different stress for these same entities: falling leaves. Some gardeners say leave the leaves where they fall; others hope for wind to remove them; others diligently fill numerous lawn and leaf bags. Perhaps more importantly, what does a layer of leaves do to your lawn?
According to our own Mark Keaton, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Office, "The leaves should be collected as they fall. You don’t want a heavy covering of leaves entering the winter months. A dense layer can actually smother a lawn. People often leave leaves on the lawn until it turns cold and then rake them. If you have a covering of leaves on your lawn prior to the first frost, the leaves may prevent your lawn from going dormant. When you finally do rake up the leaves, you’ll expose actively growing grass to cold weather. Your lawn could suffer winter injury."
So there you have it! Get those rakes ready and probably some muscle liniment for afterwards.
For other fall gardening suggestions, see the October Garden Calendar in this issue.