Wonder about the leaves from the trees in the fall affecting your lawn? Look at your lawn first! If you have a warm-season grass such as zoysia or bermuda, once it is dormant the leaves don’t create much of a problem other than the appearance factor.
If you have a cool-season grass such as tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass then … Rake those leaves now fallling from your trees off the turf as soon as possible to prevent shading and disease problems!
The cool-season grasses are storing energy reserves for winter and spring growth. Keeping the leaves off will prevent shading and disease problems which will keep the grass from producing carbohydrates needed for the winter months. If you do, the turf will be healthier and recover from the winter faster!
As for what to do with the leaves — the debate is mulching or removing and composting. While mulching can be helpful, it can create a problem with the amount of leaf litter. Consider composting the leaves which can then be used to mix with soil for bedding plants or other gardening activities.
If you do rake leaves, remember to put them into degradable bags for removal or in some areas they can be piled in the street for city removal. Check with your municipal solid waste disposal provider for dates of when this service is available.
Dr. Charles H. Peacock
Extension Turf Specialist, NC State University