Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why do we rake leaves out of our yards?

Asked by Dutchess_III (25566 points ) December 3rd, 2013

I thought I’d asked this before but couldn’t find it.

Last year my husband took over the raking of the leaves. Instead of bagging them up, like I did, he just piled them around the trees. About mid summer I realized that those piles of leaves had composted into dirt and we had a nice mound of dirt around the base of the trees, which needed it!
So why don’t we just leave the leaves in our yard to compost? Or rake them to areas that could use some dirt, like dips and low spots,or where tree roots are exposed?

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12 Answers

syz's avatar

I leaf compost.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

For years, I’ve been on a soapbox about this very subject. Fallen leaves are part of nature’s cycle; they compost during the winter, add nutrients to the soil, and form a layer of robust soil.

But, I don’t recommend piling leaves and not removing them. When grass and foliage get covered beneath smothering layers of leaves, they are deprived of air, water, and sunlight needed to survive, and they become a breeding ground for insects and fungi (leaf mold is a powerful allergen).

Why do people rake and remove leaves?

- For aesthetic reasons. We’ve been trained to believe that empty, pristine lawns are beautiful, and that last autumn’s leaves are a messy eyesore.

- Neighbors complain. If you have the only house on your block with a leaf blanket, your neighbors will think that you’re neglecting your property.

- Leaves blow away. If a strong wind blows some of your leaves into the street or your neighbor’s yards, you’ll annoy people.

elbanditoroso's avatar

“We” don’t. As others have replied, they either blow away, or they turn into compost and help the soil.

In either case, they disappear and do no harm.

I haven’t raked leaves in 30 years.

gailcalled's avatar

Neither have I, in 27 years.

I do have a friend who takes pleaure in jumping on her riding mower and riding roughshod over all the fallen leaves, thereby chopping them into small bits. She then lets them blow around. By the time the snow melts, there is no trace of them. They must have been converted into some sort of soil.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was thinking that mowing them, chopping them up, would solve the problem of them blowing into the neighbor’s yards.

tom_g's avatar

So it’s easier to pour toxic chemicals on the grass in hopes that it will not resemble anything dirty or natural, so we continue to not use our lawns and impress our shallow, pathetic neighbors.

Also, what is this thing you refer to called a “rake”? What kind of fuel does it take? You sanitize your lawns by strapping noise pollution onto your back and walk around like an asshole, blowing bits of leaves around. I think in the olden days, people used to use a large comb of some kind. They would have to actually use their own muscles, however. And it was torture because the lack of deafening noise allowed thoughts of suburban loneliness and depression to kick in.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The theory is, @tom_g, the more noise you make the harder you’re working. Which is why my husband will vacuum, but rarely sweeps the floor with a broom. ;)

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@tom_g I’m a huge fan and proponent of this type of lawn mower:

What a joy it is, on a summer weekend day, to hear gentle whirring sounds instead of getting assaulted by the noise of a deafening machine. And, manual lawn mowers don’t pollute or waste resources.

pleiades's avatar

I think if you leave them on the yard sometimes it can be more troublesome to spot the weeds. But yes if left alone, lots of beautiful critters arise!

Dutchess_III's avatar

@pleiades There are no weeds during the winter, and the leaves have all decomposed by the following summer at which point you can see the weeds and the grass.

Pachy's avatar

One reason I try not to let the leaves pile up in my yard clear of leaves is so that people who walk or run across it (especially kids) can spot and not trip into the little holes and indentations created when my sprinkler system was installed a few summers ago. I myself have done this.

anniereborn's avatar

I have no idea. I never have

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