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Is It Harmful to Keep Leaves on the Lawn During the Winter?

2016-11-01

If history is any indication, the first snowfall could hit the western suburbs of Minnesota’s Twin Cities in less than a month. As fall gives way to winter, clients of The Lawnsmith often ask us if it will ruin their lawn if it snows when they still have a lot of leaves in their yard. The short answer is it depends on what you do with the leaves.

If you leave them in large piles that eventually gets covered by snow, it is difficult to impossible for air and light to get in. These elements are important because they help to compost the leaves during the long winter months. Blocked sunlight and reduced water evaporation can cause mold, disease, and fungus as well. When spring comes, you’re likely to find bare or yellow spots where the leaves sat on the lawn. The leaves themselves will also be slippery and challenging to remove from your grass.

Spreading Leaves Evenly Across Your Lawn Will Not Harm It
On the other hand, scattering the leaves so they are spread out instead of in piles will not cause lasting harm to your lawn. The same is true when you mulch your leaves into the grass. Since leaves contain few nutrients, they are unable to control disease or weeds. However, leaves do attract worms that help to aerate and fertilize your lawn for the winter months.

If you do opt for spreading leaves on your lawn, we recommend shredding them first. If you don’t have a built-in mulch grinder on your mower, just contact us for help.

Let Us Pick Up Your Leaves
We remove leaves and haul them away as part of our fall clean-up service. This includes leaves on your lawn as well as in window wells and landscaped beds. It is also important to remove leaves from gutters before the snow is here to stay for a while. If you’re not up to that task, we also offer fall gutter cleaning. 

Photo Credit: Gudella / Getty Images