Is it okay to mow leaves into my lawn or should I rake and remove them?

Contrary to popular belief, yes – it is highly desirable to mow leaves into your lawn. Chopped leaf litter is a natural fertilizer that adds low-level nutrients which are gently released into your lawn. In addition to fertilization, this organic matter acts as a soil conditioner, improving drainage and texture. This practice also encourages earthworms that feed on leaf litter; their burrowing helps to aerate the soil while their nutrient-rich castings improve fertility.

When mowing leaves into your lawn, you will probably need to run over them a few times to chop them up finely enough so that they will disappear into the grass without being noticeable. A light raking may also be of benefit. This is the time to apply lawn fertilizer, and organic is best to ensure that you don’t adversely affect your earthworms and other beneficial soil organisms. Afterward, if there is no rain in the immediate forecast, you should water the lawn thoroughly to ensure that the leaf litter completely settles into the base layer of turf and starts its breakdown process.

Lastly, the eco-friendly practice of utilizing leaves as a lawn fertilizer saves a lot of time and trouble by removing the chore of bagging leaves while helping to keep our landfills a little bit clearer. Moreover, this practice applies to grass clippings, too, as they provide the very same functions and benefits for your turf while giving you more leisure time to enjoy your lawn!

Darrin Duling is the director of Mercer Botanic Gardens in Humble. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..