Friday, December 01, 2006


To rake or not rake? That seems to be the question.
Whether to leave natures gift untouched or aid in dispersal.
What to do?
Do the leaves left untended really smother the grass?
Is mulch mowing enough?
Are curling drying leaves attractive as mulch?

I tried to address this question at Garden Rant but was unable to post a comment for reasons unknown. So since this blog could use an entry...

Hello Susan,
Many of the gardens on our street have only needle type evergreens. Oh yes and lots of lawn. Easy maintainance, monotonous,time consuming but simple care. Rake the leaves in autumn add a few flowers (maybe) in spring. You have your basic urban garden look.Pretty much the same year round unless it snows.

There are 4 distinct seasons in the Chicago area where I garden.
Contrary to popular belief, leaves will not kill your lawn. I know this from personal experience.Just running the mower over the leaves breaks them up enough, along with the grass clippings, to help the breakdown along.
The leaves that are collected(often from others curbside)and added to the planting areas,surround any perennials that do not die back to mush. While these leaves are still there in early spring it seems to me that the leaf mulch way to quickly disappear as the days lengthen and the temperatures warm.
As for the leaves blowing away, the standing stems and ground covers keep the wind from blowing all away.Not so on the lawn. If we are not quick enough to mow after leaf fall, all leaves blow down the street and gather at the house with all the great deciduous trees and shrubs.

I like the look of curling drying leaves about my garden. Even in the groundcovers.
From the pictures you have posted your garden is wonderful and you seem an experienced gardener that knows what she wants. This is not to say that you are wrong. Only that for this garden there is another answer... sincerely Gloria

6 Comments:

Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Hello Gloria,
This isn't Susan - it's AnnieinAustin - once from Chicago. In Texas we rake the leaves we want into the vegetable garden and around shrubs in woodland areas, double mowing in other areas, because if WHOLE leaves lie on top of St Augustine they really do kill the grass.

In Illinois we also used the leaves in the vegetable garden and as mulch around shrubs in back, but our large, windswept, Illinois front garden faced west. We were the only ones with plants and shrubs up front, rather than large old trees, so the wind currents somehow deposited all our neighbors' large leaves from their enormous old trees into our front garden. We had a black cherry with small leaves, and all the trees we planted ourselves were small-leaved. We could mow those to compost in place. But whether mowing or mulching works seems to depend on what kind of trees you have - my mom's sycamores, for example, and our neighbors' large-leaved maples, don't curl and dry, and they don't even chop well with the mower. They always seemed to fall during an extended wet period, somehow making themselves into damp, glued-together, impenetrable layers, which slid under the mower blade, and were easily able to kill perennials and grass.

So I'm glad Susan's method works for her, and I'm glad yours works for you, and I'm glad mine's working for me so far.

Our successes with different methods seem to prove Allen Lacy's saying that Gardening is local!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

1/12/06 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still don't have enough leaves to worry about raking vs. mowing. When I do, I intend to just mow them and leave them on the grass. I might rake up some to shred and put in the compost bins.

1/12/06 4:59 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Ah Annie, the voice of reason. Of course gardening is local and individual.
I do not mind at all if one likes the neat look of a freshly mowed lawn and all leaves raked and removed.I just like to voice that alternatives do exist. Preference not necessity govern most choices of this nature.

Carol,isn't it funny which topics on Garden Rant get the most response. I have been watching and wondering why some are ignored while others are debated. Love that site!!!

3/12/06 12:56 PM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Yeah, Gloria, I just can't seem to Rant as well as the other bloggers, although I like to read them! Even as a young girl I could always see more than one side to an argument, which can be murder when you have to make up your mind, of course.

The seemingly random aspect of ignored topics does make me wonder what's going on, too - a subject worthy of garden psychology research, maybe?

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

3/12/06 2:17 PM  
Anonymous susan harris said...

Hey, what's the story with not being able to comment on GardenRant? That's a problem!! Maybe Typepad's fault? Say more. (harristakomaATerols.com)
And I love the mission of this site. My town is trying to get certified as a community wildlife habitat - check it out: www.wildwildtakoma.blogspot.com. Maybe I'll add your link to our site, get the ball rolling a bit.
Thanks for your encouraging words about hte Rant, by the way, and keep trying to comment - please. Susan

14/12/06 8:03 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Susan, the problem was with my own server and spyware I think. It is no longer a problem.
Garden Rant is one site I visit anytime I have to sit at the computer for very long.
A whole town trying to get certified as a wildlife habitat is something I will look into. Thanks!

15/12/06 1:32 PM  

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