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


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


Don't Forget These Essential Fall Clean-Up Tasks


The official beginning of fall is just days away. While autumn is a beautiful season, it also presents a lot of work for homeowners. To keep your lawn as healthy as possible during the winter and into next spring, it's important to complete these tasks before the first snow flies:

- Rake and bag all remaining leaves: When snow falls on top of leaves, they get matted down on the turf and smother it until the snow melts several months later. The best way to avoid dead patches of grass in the spring is by raking or using a mulching mower in the fall. Excess leaves on the lawn also cause fungus, mold, and disease by blocking sunlight and reducing water evaporation even before winter arrives. It’s also important to remove leaves, pine needles, and twigs from your landscape beds and window wells.
- Weeding: Fall is the ideal time to weed your lawn to ensure that it will be healthy next spring. Please review our blog post Pull Weeds the Right Way to make sure that you correctly identify weeds and don’t injure yourself in the process. 
- Clean the gutters: It is important to complete this chore in the fall to prevent the moisture from leaves, twigs, and rain water from attracting mold, mildew, insects, and general rot. If the leaves become too wet, they can prevent water from passing through the gutters. Another thing to consider is that the water in your gutters can freeze and cause structural damage to the roof along with ice damming. 
- Fertilize the lawn: Using a slow-release fertilizer in the fall enables your grass to soak up the nutrients it needs. The fertilization process also makes it possible for your grass to recover from the heat and stress of the summer and prepare for the dormant period of winter. 
- Remove thatch build-up: Thatch is a build-up of roots that grow above the ground. When left unchecked, it prevents moisture, oxygen, and sunlight from reaching the nutrient-rich soil in the deeper layers of your grass. 

These are just some of the many tasks we recommend that you complete this fall. Keep in mind that The Lawnsmith offers fall clean-up, gutter cleaning, and several other services that will help your lawn and yard make a successful transition from fall to winter. 

Photo Credit: John Lund / Getty Images