Every year nearly 8 million tons of leaves end up buried in landfills across the United States. Due to a lack of oxygen, those leaves are unable to decompose quickly and instead release methane gas. However, when fallen leaves are left in your yard they can decompose faster and leave behind organic matter that greatly enhances soil health. Leaves are full of nutrients that will make your lawn thrive, including potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. While ditches, driveway culverts, and storm drains still need to be kept clear of leaves and other debris to prevent flooding, wildlife and lawn experts agree that when it comes to your lawn it is usually better to skip the raking and bagging and leave those leaves in place!
Chopping up blankets of leaves with a lawn mower may be necessary to thin out the material and break the leaves down quickly. This is important because thick layers of leaves left on your lawn blocks out the sunlight which is needed for photosynthesis. Excess leaves can be raked around trees and shrubs in 3 – 6 inch deep piles or into a landscape bed or garden and used for mulch. Combining fallen leaves with grass clippings and other organic green material can also produce nutrient-rich compost.