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The Importance of Raking Leaves: Is It Really Necessary?

So many changes happen to the environment as it prepares for winter.  Animals collect food and prepare for hibernation, the grass is no longer vibrant and green, and the leaves change colors as they get ready to fall off the trees.  As fall begins to set in, us humans have new chores to do as we prepare for winter as well.  For example, the crops are now ready to be harvested and preserved.  One of the more "not so fun chores" that comes every single fall is raking leaves. While the leaves are colorful and beautiful while they are still on the tree, you know that very soon they will fall onto your lawn and must be raked up.  

Because it can be a hard and boring job to do, you may begin to wonder, "Do I need to rake leaves?"  If you have been wondering what happens if you don't rake your leaves, you have come to the right place.  Today I'll be going over the pros and cons of raking leaves and other alternatives you can try.  Hopefully by the end of this article you'll understand more why raking leaves is necessary, and maybe you'll find some tips and tricks that will help you complete this dreaded chore.  Are you ready to get raking?  Let's begin.

Pro:  Raking Leaves Makes Your Lawn Look Nicer

One of the main reasons you probably rake your yard is because you want your lawn to look nice.  And you are right.  A lawn free of leaves looks cleaner and less "abandoned" than lawns with leaves scattered on the grass.  If you want a neat lawn without a cluttered look, raking leaves is necessary.

Con:  Raking Leaves Takes Away the Homes for Beneficial Bugs

When you rake up the leaves, you are preventing insects from making homes there.  This can be helpful so that harmful insects don't ruin the grass, but it also takes away the homes of beneficial insects.  Consider leaving some leaves on the ground for the helpful insects.

Pro:  Wet Leaves Can Cause You to Fall

If you leave leaves on your patio, deck, or sidewalk, there is a good chance of it causing some slips and falls.  When it rains, the leaves will become slippery and may cause you to fall.  Even if you remember to be careful when you walk outside, if there are leaves on a sidewalk other people may get hurt.  For safety reasons, you should rake your leaves off of the sidewalk, patio, and deck.

Con:  The Frost May Damage Your Grass

When there are leaves on the ground, your lawn is protected from the frost.  Even when the temperature reaches below freezing, the roots of the grass will not be damaged.  But when you rake the leaves, your grass is no longer protected.

Pro:  Less Complaints from Neighbors

Each time you rake up the leaves in your yard, you are doing your neighbors a favor.  How?  Each time there is a wind or slight breeze, the leaves on your lawn will probably blow over onto your neighbors lawn.  It's OK if it is just a few leaves that blow onto your neighbors lawn, but if you have a large pile of  leaves, your neighbor's lawn will probably get covered in leaves quickly.  Even if your neighbors don't complain about the leaves, it is still the kind thing to do.  Besides, your neighbors will be pleased to to see your lawn looking so tidy.  Everyone likes a tidy looking yard, right?

Con:  Groundwater Pollution

If you happen to not tie the bag correctly, leaves could fall out.  Winds and rain can carry and drop large quantities of loose leaves into the groundwater and nearby aquatic ecosystems, where they block sunlight and oxygen and promote an overgrowth of algae.  This can cause fish to die.  Always make sure that you tie the bags tightly so that no leaves can come out.  Also, make sure you bag it right after raking.

Pro:  Keeps Your Grass Healthy

During the spring and summer, many people go overboard with keeping their lawn healthy.  They water it, mow it, and keep it free of pests.  However, when fall comes the grass no longer gets cared for as diligently.  We assume that the grass no longer needs cared for when indeed it needs proper care so it can thrive next year.  By raking your leaves, your grass will receive the air, nutrients, sunlight, and water that it needs to remain healthy.  Dense leaves can also harbor molds, mildew and other fungus.  This can cause your grass to become diseased and die.  In order for you to maintain a healthy lawn, you must rake the  leaves.

Con:  Raking Leaves Prevents the Soil from Receiving Healthy Nutrients

Leaves have healthy nutrients.  When you rake up the leaves, you are preventing the nutrients from going down into the soil.  Sometimes it is better to leave leaves on the ground as long as they aren't blocking the grass from the sun and air.

Pro:  Raking Leaves Makes You Get Outside and Move

As the cooler air sets in, it may be tempting to stay inside and watch TV.  But it is important to get outside and move, no matter what the temperature is like.  Raking leaves is an excellent way for you to get outside and stay fit.  While it may not be a sweat-drenching workout, it still gets you moving.  Are you worried you might get cold?  Invest in some warm winter sweaters, hats, and gloves.

Con:  It Can Be a Hard Job

There is truth to raking leaves being a hard job.  After all, you have to go up and down your lawn trying to rake every single leaf you see.  If you don't see it as hard, you may consider it to be boring.  When you were a kid you may have found it fun to jump in the leaves, but now the job may seem difficult.  Consider giving yourself a break from raking the lawn this year.  Rake it once or twice, and then be done.

Pro:  It's a Fun Chore for the Whole Family

You may be thinking, "How is raking leaves considered fun?"  But it is.   Especially if you involve your whole family in this chore.  Your kids will love jumping in the leaves once they are done raking.  Your family may have fun making goals, such as whoever finishes raking leaves first can jump in the pile of leaves first.  Maybe your kids enthusiasm will help cheer you up.  Even if it doesn't, you get extra hands to help rake the leaves.

Con:  Time Consuming

Raking leaves is time consuming.  Even if it isn't physically hard for you, raking leaves takes a lot of time out your day.  If your area doesn't provide leaf pickup, you'll need to spend the time to drop your bag off at the landfill.

Tips to Make Raking Leaves Easier

One way or another, at some point you'll probably need to rake the leaves on your lawn.  Are there any tips to help you do this task?  Thankfully, there are.  Let's take a look at some helpful tips so that raking leaves isn't as difficult.

Use a Leaf Blower

A leaf blower can be helpful for arranging the leaves in a pile.  You'll need to rake the leaves at some point, but a leaf blower can help get the leaves closer together, hence preventing you from raking the whole lawn.

Mowing Leaves Instead of Raking

There is a specific lawn mower made for leaves that is on the market.  It is called a mulching mower.  You could probably use a regular lawn mower, but a mulching mower is made specifically for leaves.  What it does is break up the leaves into tiny pieces so that it becomes a fertilizer.  If you didn't want the leaves to stay on the ground, you could place a bag attachment on the mower.

Invest in a Good, Sturdy Rake

Raking leaves is hard enough without having to deal with an old, broken rake.  If your rake is older, replace it with a new one.  Consider buying a metal rake instead of a plastic rake.

Do Not Burn the Leaves!

Leaf burning is banned in most cities because it leads to air pollution, health problems, and fire hazards.  Leaf smoke may also contain hazardous chemicals such as carbon monoxide, which can bind with hemoglobin in the bloodstream and reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood and lungs.  In addition to that, the smoke can bother neighbors.  In conclusion, you should not burn the leaves you rake up.

Wear Gloves

Prevent blisters from appearing on your hands by wearing gloves.  Even if your rake isn't a wooden one, gloves can help you get a better grip on the rake and keep your hands padded.  Gloves will also keep your hands warm as the weather gets cooler outside.

Rake with the Wind

Wind can be your best friend when it comes to raking.  Depending on how breezy it is outside, you may not have to work too hard to get the leaves to go the direction you want.  Try not to pick a really windy day, as the leaves may blow farther than you intended.

You Don't Have to Rake Every Single Leaf

Unless you are wanting a perfect looking lawn, you don't need to rake every single leaf.  Your lawn will still be healthy even if there are a few leaves on the ground.  Also, don't be concerned about the small leaves that fall on your lawn.  It is only the large, thick leaves that can damage your lawn.

Summary

Along with fall comes the chore of raking leaves.  To rake leaves or leave them is a debate still going on today, and to be truthful there really isn't a right answer.  While raking leaves can be important if you want a healthy, neat lawn, it does't have to be something you do often.  Leaves create a home for beneficial bugs, as well as protect your grass from frost and gives the soil healthy nutrients.  On the other hand, raking the leaves allows your lawn to receive air and light, prevents you from slipping on wet leaves, and it makes your yard look so much nicer.  You'll also probably receive less complaints from neighbors.  Besides being healthy for your grass, raking leaves is a great way for you to get outside and stay fit.  While it is a time consuming chore, raking leaves can also be a fun job for the whole family to be part of.  Like I said, there is no right or wrong answer.  Just remember you don't have to rake every single leaf.  By leaving some leaves on the lawn, you'll make the job easier on you and healthier for your lawn.

Mariann Foster

I am one of our content writers for Everything Backyard. I am a mother and business owner of Big Horn Mountain Alpacas in Wyoming. I love farm life, cutting my own firewood in the mountains, and participating in local trail run races.

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