The beauty of colorful leaves on the trees becomes more of a pain when they drift to the ground. The backaches and piles of leaves to dispose of make raking a dreaded fall task, but the benefits of raking are worth the effort. From the health of your plants to safety, environmentally friendly removal of the leaves shapes up your yard.
You probably rake leaves to keep the yard looking neat. The once-colorful leaves quickly turn brown and crunchy -- not exactly pleasing to the eye. Even if you don't mind the look of the leaves on the lawn, your neighbors might complain. Not only do they have to look at your leaf mess, a strong breeze will carry your leaves into your neighbors' yard. Some residential areas with associations set rules for outdoor care, such as removing leaves. If your rake stays dormant, you may get a notice or a fine from the association.
If you only have a few leaves on the lawn, your grass shouldn't be affected, but a thick layer of leaves may affect the lawn's health. When the grass is hidden beneath a thick mat of leaves, it doesn't get the sunlight and air needed to stay alive. So, it's important to rake the leaves to let your lawn thrive. A yard with warm-season grass may already be dormant by the time the leaves fall, but cool-season grass is still growing in the fall, so sun and air are more important. Thick leaf layers increase the risk for dying grass, pest infestation and fungus, notes Farmer's Almanac.
Those leaves covering your lawn can serve a purpose in different areas of your yard. Raking up the leaves allows you to use them elsewhere. The leaves decompose over time, adding minerals and nutrients back into the soil. Shredding or chopping the leaves before adding them to the garden helps the material break down faster. Use the shredded leaves as a mulch in the garden. You can also use fall leaves as a natural insulation for plants that are vulnerable to cold. If you have extra leaves, place them in your compost pile for extra brown material.
Dry leaves don't present much of a safety risk, but leaves that get wet usually become slippery. If you skip raking, the leaves can blow all over your walkways, driveway and nearby roads. A fall rain soaks the leaves, making them a slippery hazard. The leaves on your sidewalks present the greatest risk of slipping, not only for your own family but also for visitors or people walking past your house. You can sweep your walkways clean, but a yard full of leaves means those sidewalks will likely be covered again the next time even a gentle breeze sweeps through the neighborhood.