Why Do We Rake Leaves?

At the last township meeting, the commissioners noted the high cost of the township’s leaf collection program. Collecting leaves across the township takes a large amount of the township’s public works time in the fall. The truck and equipment requires regular maintenance and replacement. The leaves collected by public works are composted and then redistributed as leaf mulch for a fee, again requiring township manpower and trucks in the spring.

If you google leaf removal vs. mulching, however, you find a list of articles telling you to not remove leaves from your lawn. Here’s what Penn State extension has to say,

Must I rake all the leaves?
Answer: Ecologically speaking you do not need to rake leaves, but a heavy layer can smother your lawn grass and prevent new growth in spring. Compacted leaves can promote snow mold diseases that damage turf grass. The easiest way to treat leaves on your lawn is to pass over them with a mower a few times to shred them into small pieces. This method will return nitrogen to the soil as the chipped leaves decompose. In the garden, you can leave them where they fall, so they help insulate plant roots. I rake them and run them over with the mower then return the shredded leaves to the flower beds. If you want to remove leaves from your garden, add them to your compost pile rather than bagging them and hauling them away. Composting leaves is a great way to recycle nutrients.

Here’s some of the other articles:

Mulching leaves back into the soil provides a closed cycle for the nutrients that trees used to create the leaves. It acts as fertilizer for gardens, lawns and trees. By raking and removing leaves, residents are steadily depleting the soil of these important nutrients, thus making it inevitable that fertilizers will have to be used to restore them (at further expense and damage to our waterways through fertilizer runoff). Leaf mulching also provides habitat for some creatures, thus improving local biodiversity. Leaf mulching can be more sustainable as it removes the need for those gas-burning trucks driving around our neighborhood for the entire fall.

So leaf removal is expensive, depletes the township’s manpower, is bad for the environment and is bad for the lawns and trees. Which leads to the question, why are we doing this?

Categories: Ramblings