Dealing with leaf litter (11-07-2005)
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Fall is officially here. We have a short time to enjoy the marvels of color portrayed in the leaves of the many hardwood tree species that we find within our landscapes, such as elm, oak, hickory, ash, sweet gum, etc. There is a payback however. What should we do with the leaves once they float to the ground and cover our lawns?
While leaves can become excellent mulch or compost, they should not be left intact on your lawn. Leaves lying on the turf canopy reduce light and air circulation necessary for healthy turf. With a layer of leaves covering the lawn, attack and damage from diseases and insects can easily go unnoticed until the turf is totally destroyed.
A blanket of leaves covering the turf will trap moisture between the soil and the leaves providing an ideal environment for the proliferation of pathogens such as brown patch (rhizoctonia) and other diseases most prominent with the moderate temperatures of fall. Therefore, leaves should be periodically raked from the lawn or at least mulched down into the thatch with a good mulching mower.
Published November 7, 2005
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org