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Who hasn't wanted to jump into a pile of fresh fall leaves that have been nicely raked into a big heaping mound. It's great to see the leaves scatter and fly when you dive into that heap of bright colour fall foliage.
But with new information and a good lawn mower, raking can be eliminated or reduced. Sure, go ahead and rake a few piles just for the kids to jump into. Why spoil their fun.
Research from the University of Michigan has shown the properly mulched and shredded, leaves can be left on the lawn and that as they decompose, they will enrich the soil and feed the lawn. This mulching should be done in the fall when the leaves are drier and will be easier to chop into small pieces.
Using a mower with special mulching blades, the fall leaves will be shredded into small pieces. These dime sized shreds will fall between the blades. With rain, they will reach the soil and gradually be broken down. As they decompose, they release nutrients to encourage good soil microbes and earthworms. This will help your lawn to be healthy and green.
While the study showed that high levels of mulched leaves also reduced dandelions the next year.
Of course, a little common sense is needed. The lawn will tolerate a lot of leaves but they must not be too large or too thick. If too many mulched leaves are left in one spot, the lawn beneath will suffer from a lack of light and air circulation just as much as if you left a big pile of un-mulched leaves in one place.
Ideally, your raking will be minimized, but then we've always said that raking provides some benefits - such as fresh air, exercise and perhaps some sunshine.
Went to see a lawn this week about some issues
The thing that was an eye-opener is the fact that watering can make a difference to a lawn when we have been having temperatures of 30 degrees C and there has been little rain.
Yes, grasses have the ability to withstand dry conditions, if they are not watered during droughts, they will go dormant and lose their green colour. But as long as they get some moisture, they will survive. Once fall comes with its cooler temperatures, shorted days, and more moisture the lawn will recover and turn green again.
But what if you don't want your lawn to go dormant?
Here is a lawn where you can see the difference that watering makes. The sprinkler is set on the porch in one spot. The majority of the lawn has been watered, but the edges did not get enough to keep them green. The pattern of the green is typical of the spray pattern of an oscillating sprinkler.
What about crabgrasss issues this year in #lawncare?
This summer with the hot weather has been a difficult one with respect to crabgrass. Crabgrass germinates when soil temperatures are warm. In normal summers, the grass cover on a lawn that is mowed high (3" mowing height) is usually sufficient shade to keep crabgrass from germinating and growing.
We are finding that the extremely warm daytime temperatures this year has made it harder for lawns to retain the degree of cover and therefore shading from the grass blades. Plus when under water stress, grass blades tend to curl up in order to conserve moisture. This helps relieve moisture stress, but this also reduces the amount of shade provided by the grass blades.
All these factors have made crabgrass more abundant this year in many lawns even those with our organic crabgrass preventer applications.
The good part- crabgrass is an annual and will die with a good frost
The bad part- crabgrass plants are prolific seed producers.
Removing crabgrass plants before they can drop their seed can help reduce crabgrass in the future. But this can be a tedious and time consuming task.
Seeding the lawn this September may be helpful in encouraging a good thick stand of grass- to help keep soil temperatures down- especially if we get another hot dry summer next year.