Why you should stop raking your leaves

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Do you really need to rake the leaves from your lawn?

Raking the leaves, depending on the build of your family, can be a fun time -- or a chore you're dreading. Most people I know, including myself, will rake the leaves. It just feels messy. But apparently I've been wasting my time.

According to Sam Bauer, a turf grass researcher at the University of Minnesota, the best thing for your lawn is to mow it.

"Mulch the leaves with a mower (i.e. chop them into small pieces so they will fall into the canopy).  This is my preferred option because the nutrients and organic matter will benefit the lawn and soil.  Some leaf types have been shown to reduce weed seed germination when mulched into a lawn canopy (maples, others).  The leaves of some particular tree species (legumes like honey locust, others) might actually add a significant amount of nitrogen to lawns because these species fix nitrogen from the atmosphere just like soybeans, so higher leaf nitrogen contents in these leaves is possible."

Successfully mulching leaves into a lawn canopy requires more frequent mowing in the fall and possibly several passes with the mower to mulch the leaves sufficiently.  

Specialized mulching mowers can also be purchased, and these mower types will also be beneficial year-round to mulch grass leaves into the canopy. Chopping leaves into small pieces is important.