Expert reveals why neglecting this fall gardening chore could be killing your lawn

It's a simple garden task, but if you don't do it, you could end up with a patchy lawn next spring

Gardener Raking Up Fallen Autumn Leaves from Garden Lawn
(Image credit: David Burton/ Getty)

What is the most important lawn task for fall? And what happens if you neglect to do it regularly? It turns out that the simple act of gathering falling autumn leaves is one of the most important things you can do to make sure your lawn looks its best come spring.

Raking leaves is one of those autumn lawn care tips that anyone can master – you just need a rake. But what if you don't pick them up? After all, it's easier to just let them pile up before removing them, right? It turns out you really should pick leaves off your lawn regularly. Here's why. 

raking leaves

(Image credit: Elizabethsalleebauer/ Getty)

Why you should pick leaves off your lawn

It turns out that all those leaves left in a pile on your lawn could literally suffocate it. As Paul Hicks, Product and Marketing Manager at STIHL GB , explains, 'autumn leaves may be beautiful, but when they start to fall and pile up on the ground they can be a real chore for gardeners.' 

This doesn't mean you should just let them accumulate, however. As Paul says, 'clearing leaves off the lawn prevents suffocation, letting it rest and breathe for a healthy spring.' It may sound like magic, but your lawn really does need to breathe during winter so that the grass underneath does not die.  

Alan Titchmarsh has given very similar advice in the past, speaking in a video for Waitrose. The experienced gardener and presenter said, 'You may be tempted' to think ''I'll wait till they're all down'' and then finally clean up. Don't - because if they sit there for weeks – and oak leaves don't come down till Christmas, by the time you rake them up, you'll find there's no grass left underneath.'

So, little and often does it, using the best garden rake – or a leaf blower, if raking is physically difficult. 

If you're not sure what to do with all those leaves, Alan recommends putting them into black bin bags, stab the bag with little holes, 'that allows just a bit of air to get in there.' Then, 'dampen them and firm them in, push that over every time you put a few more in, and after a year, they'll be brown and crumbly.' This is how to make leaf mould that will feed your garden and keep your beds and borders looking their best next year.  

Anna Cottrell
Anna Cottrell

Anna is a keen urban gardener, with David Austin roses and Japanese acers among her favourite plants. She moved into the world of interiors from academic research in the field of literature and urban space a couple of years ago. She's always been interested in how people make houses into homes, and how our concepts of what's stylish change over time.