Colors of fall ultimately require a payback
Fall is officially here. We have a short time to enjoy the marvels of color portrayed in the leaves of the many hardwood tree species such as elm, oak, hickory, ash, sweet gum, etc. we find within our landscapes.
Ultimately there is a payback, however. Once this beautiful show of color ends, with each leaf being released from the branches and softly fluttering to the ground, we are faced with the dilemma of what to do with the leaves after they cover our lawns.
While leaves can become excellent mulch or compost, they should not be left intact on your lawn. Leaves lying on the turf canopy reduce light and air circulation necessary for healthy turf. With a layer of leaves covering the lawn, attack and damage from diseases and insects can easily go unnoticed until the turf is totally destroyed. A blanket of leaves covering the turf will trap moisture between the soil and the leaves. This provides an ideal environment for the proliferation of pathogens such as large patch (Rhizoctonia) and other diseases most prominent with the moderate temperatures of fall. Therefore, leaves should be periodically raked, swept or blown from the lawn or at least mulched down into the thatch with a good mulching mower.
Most leaves are an excellent source of compost, so be environmentally friendly by composting rather than burning or bagging your leaves.
Published November 5, 2007
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. email@example.com