In Michigan, fall means nature is at its peak. It only happens once a year, it only lasts a few months, and the vibrant colors usher in the beauty of the season. But with great beauty comes great responsibility! Don’t “leaf” your landscaping to the wayside as winter approaches. Falls leaves have an appeal – they coat your yard with warm autumn colors. While letting these golden leaves accumulate in your yard may harmless, they can pose many health risks to landscape and yourself.
Allowing a layer of leaves to accumulate can deprive grass of sunlight, which is very harmful to root growth. Without proper sunlight, your grass can’t complete photosynthesis and is unable to absorb nutrients needed to survive and support root growth. While seemingly harmless, your grass growth will be affected the following spring due to decreased root strength and limited nutrient uptake capabilities.
Accumulated leaves tend to retain moisture which is the perfect environment for diseases, fungi, and mold to grow. Mold is harmful to your lawn, landscape, and especially human health. Removing leaf clutter prevents moisture from getting trapped and eliminates the potential for fungi and mold growth.
Pests, including insects, rodents, and snakes burrow underneath accumulated leaves in preparation for colder months. From a landscaping perspective, aphids are a highly destructive insect pest that can wreak havoc on your garden in the spring. During the fall, aphids begin the next stage of their lifecycle, overwintering by hiding on the underside of leaves and laying eggs. Leaving aphid infested leaves will result in your garden producing fewer tomatoes the following spring.
Rodents are attracted to the accumulated leaves in search of food. Beetles, larvae, grubs, etc. are all great sources of protein, and ideal pray for mice and rats. During the fall and winter, rodents will hunt insects inside of leaf piles. Unfortunately, once winter begins to set in, the rodents will also begin looking for warm places to nest. More than likely, they will be attracted to your home if they are already feasting in your yard.
To prevent spring landscaping problems, don’t “fall” back on your responsibilities when the days become short, and air becomes crisp.