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To Rake Or Not To Rake

Every fall, homeowners are faced with the choice of raking (or blowing) fallen tree and shrub leaves off their lawns or just letting nature take its course. Hopefully, raking wins out. Here’s why.

While dead leaves make good compost, they can smother your lawn when left in their “raw” form. A virtually impenetrable mat of leaves traps water between the leaves and grass. This can cause problems ranging from a fungus to total destruction from lack of sunlight and oxygen.

After raking or blowing leaves into piles, scoop them up, grind them and let them “mature” in order to have useable compost. Next season, you will have free fertilizer – natural, organic fertilizer.

“But Dave,” people say, “don’t leaves just fall to the forest floor and decompose naturally?” Sure they do, but have you ever looked underneath a carpet of leaves in the woods? No grass.

If you don’t have composting facilities, start a compost heap, bin or other receptacle for processing nutrition-rich leaves into great compost. It is easy. You can get pre-built systems at garden stores or build your own. If you want plans or design ideas for a home-built composter, check the Internet.

The tiring task when making compost from leaves used to be grinding the leaves small enough that they would decompose completely over the winter. Last year, I shared with you an easy, effective method I saw on a television program. You can read that by clicking on October 2012 on the right sidebar and reading the third blog down.

One alternative to composting at home is to rake or blow your leaves to the curb where the town will come through and vacuum them up. The other alternative is to bag them and put them out with your garbage. Either way, you will have to haul the compost back to your yard, if the community or trash hauler even shares the compost with the public. Some communities use the material in their parks and around public buildings.

Taking a pass on the raking chore this year isn’t an option. It needs to be done, and with modern composting equipment at your fingertips, it is not as hard a chore as it used to be. Still not fun, but much less onerous with all the new composting equipment.

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