It is amazing how quickly the leaves in our beautiful Pioneer Valley turn color this time of year. The change in the air is palpable come late August, and within a couple of weeks we see an amazing array of hues peppering our many trees. As the leaves start to fall, many of us begin the arduous process of raking, bagging and hauling them away (if we can get them bagged before the kids turn them into forts and/or playgrounds). Some of us just fight with our partners about who is going to do it and within what sort of time frame. Perhaps with the threat of hiring someone to do it for them if they don't have or can't find the time. It seems reasonable to me (being in the latter category) to hire someone. And since we wound up doing the backbreaking and unenjoyable work (IMHO) of doing our own spring clean up this year - I decided it was worth the effort to look into whether or not fall clean up is actually important for lawn health - or whether it is just an aesthetic choice.
For one thing, lawns actually need to breathe. A thick layer of unshredded leaves left on top of a lawn (and under cover of snow) can cause snow mold, and is generally not great for your lawn. Another thing to keep in mind is that most lawns in the Northeast are made up of a number of grasses that are more active during the cooler months of the year, know as "cool season" grasses. These grasses can thrive in cool weather (such as the fall) if given enough sunlight and water. With layers of leaves lying atop the grasses, they will not be given the chance to grow and strengthen their root systems. One quick solution, and alternative to a full on fall cleanup, is mow and shred the leaves -- allowing sunlight and air to reach the grasses below. The other is to rake and bag them yourselves. Lastly, you could always hire one of the many local outfits who are happy to help with fall clean up for a fee.
This past summer - my husband finally admitted that cutting our half acre lawn with a push mower was a akin to trimming it with a pair of nail scissors - and he suggested to we buy a battery powered mower. After I recovered from the shock of his statement (he is, as you may remember, the environmental fascist in our household) - I raced across the river to to Home Depot and Lowe's - only to find that their were none left in stock! Happily, my Amazon Prime account came in handy once again, and within a couple of days we were the proud owners of a Greenworks Cordless Lawn Mower with a 40 Volt, 4 AMP Hour lithium ion battery. This thing purrs, it is so quiet! It mulches the grass, or you can attach the bag to catch the grass and leaves, if you prefer. The battery is rechargeable, and the mower is powerful enough to cut 1/2 acre lawn with in one mowing. If you opt to shred vs. remove the leaves from your yard, a battery powered mower is a good way to go about it!