Fall has officially arrived. The first frost has occurred and trees are beginning to drop their leaves. While leaves can become excellent mulch or compost, they should not be left intact on our Southern lawns over the fall and winter.
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 providing 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 from the lawn or mulched down into the thatch with a good mulching mower.
While a good pair of soft work gloves, a nice large lawn rake, and a lightweight tarp are ideal tools to get leaves off the lawn, leaf blowers and bagging mowers can make the work go a lot faster and much easier. Although, with these modern machines you may not get the full benefits of great exercise and sore muscles to reward you from this chore.
Published November 15, 2010
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