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The Indefinite Article.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

To Rake or Not to Rake ....

How could something as seemingly simple as raking the yard turn into a controversy among gardeners? As it turns out, leaf mulch is one of the best natural soil improvers around. Take a look at any forest floor and you will see a thriving plant community bolstered by rich, humusy soil that has built up over decades or even centuries of leaf accumulation. It supplies all the nutrients plants need as it decomposes and breaks down over time AND it insulates your plants in the winter and protects them from freezing. How many times have I wished for a nice bag full of leaf compost in my city garden, bereft of a lush tree canopy, while so many people elsewhere are bagging up their leaves and throwing them into the garbage heap??

So why has raking the yard become an American past-time? Namely, keeping up with the Joneses, it seems -- many communities feel pressured by their neighbors to keep up the aesthetic appearance of a green manicured lawn year-round, even though this ultimately means more time and money spent on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides over the course of the year because your plants aren't receiving the nutrition they need in the soil naturally.

So what if raking is just plain fun? Well, then, rake away, my friend -- you might spare the backyard, though -- maybe you could put everything into big piles and then relish jumping into them and dispersing the leaves back into the yard again. Or, to aid in the decomposition process, many people find a leaf shredder attachment to their landmower helpful. Or compost bins are great as a place to store all those leaves until they break down into a rich soil that can be spread back out into the yard without raising any eyebrows from your neighbors.


  • amber, i'm so glad that you commented on this. I DID feel pretty bad about throwing away so many leaves, so i left two over-full bags of leaves sitting on my back porch for just such mulching activities. I figured that sometime this weekend, i would spread them back out on the lawn and let the boy pounce on them before i mowed over them (yes, i have a mulching mower - i don't pick up mowed grass either. i just let it sit on the yard.)

    As for raking: it's just plain fun and a great workout too. Eric, my neighbor who has a son about four months younger than adolfo, thinks i'm crazy that i do yardwork at all. He spends nearly $150/mo to have someone mow his yard; although, his yard IS nearly three or four times as big as mine.

    question: there is a 'gardening strip' that runs along the back left fence that i've dug up several times to keep weeds out. If i throw some of those leaves on there to mulch, should i dig them under? or should i just leave them on top?

    By Blogger Killy, at 8:20 PM  

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