One of biggest questions once Autumn passes is what to do with that hefty deposit of leaves all over the lawn and what is the best way to clear up leaves?
Leaf clearing is not a chore most gardeners or operatives look forward to. Just as you gather them together in a nice big pile, the wind whips up and scatters them once again!
A lot of people ask, “Won’t the leaves just compost naturally on the lawn?” Well the answer is both yes and no. If you only have a few leaves here and there you may well be best letting them blow off your lawn and into the surrounding shrubs, hedges or bushes and letting them turn into fertilising mulch.
However, if you have substantial foliage that has fallen onto your lawn(s) the leaves will smother and subsequently kill your grass long before they turn into helpful mulch.
If that is the case, one way or another, you are going to have to collect the leaves from your lawn and there really aren’t that many options. Always try to clean up leaves on a mild and dry day since leaves are more easily picked up when they are crispy rather than wet, heavy and soggy.
In terms of options you have two main options for collecting and clearing up your fallen leaves.
Firstly, you can use either a petrol or electric leaf blower. The former is a loud piece of machinery so wearing ear protection is well advised. They can also be heavy so strapping them to your body is a good idea to minimise any strain on your back.
The best method when using a leaf blower is to blow them into large piles (preferably in a corner) to make them easy to collect and deposit into your green waste or compost bin. Make sure to keep the blowing attachment close to the ground to keep control over where you are blowing your leaves from and to. It may take some practice but these machines when used properly are much easier than the second option of manually raking.
Raking is a more physically demanding way to collect fallen leaves, but it is efficient and a great way to get a lot of exercise! Before starting, you should choose a rake that makes your life easier, look for rakes with a bent handle that makes the raking action easier on the back. Wide rakes increase surface area and therefore cut down on raking time and foam cushioned handles help to prevent blisters.
Whatever method of leaf clearing-up you choose, you then need to decide if you will utilise the dead leaves, or if you will send them away for recycle with your green garden waste.
If you decide to use your leaves, semi-rotting leaves are high in nutrients and adds substantial organic matter to your soil. You can create leaf mould very easily by simply piling all your leaves and putting them in a compost area, and letting them sit for a year or so. The bottom of the pile will begin decomposing first and can be used as a soil amendment or mulch. Combining dry leaves with green garden waste will result in an actively decomposing pile and will speed up the process.