Lawn care in autumn

Why it makes sense to rake leaves regularly

Regular leaf raking is a crucial aspect of autumn garden maintenance. While it may be tedious to rake leaves daily on a property with trees and shrubs, waiting until the last leaves have fallen to tackle the task in one go is not advisable. If lawn areas and beds are partially or completely covered with leaves, the damp and cold weather can create a dense layer that effectively suffocates the soil beneath. Moist fallen leaves provide an ideal breeding ground for many fungal spores, leading to their proliferation and potential harm to garden plants. It is more prudent to gather the leaves in several stages, using a lawn- and back-friendly approach, especially during dry weather.

The physical activity of raking can be strenuous and put strain on the body. Therefore, it's essential to rake with consistent movements, without excessive force, and always maintaining a straight posture. To avoid blisters on your hands, wear work gloves.

Which rake for which areas?

For well-maintained lawn areas, use a metal rake. They are sturdy, effortlessly collecting even the finest leaves and grass, as well as larger and heavier objects like pebbles.

In dense, unevenly mown areas, a wooden rake is more appropriate as it is easy to guide and less likely to snag in the ground.

Where should the leaves go?

Initially, rake the leaves onto a tarp to form a pile, making it easy to gather and transport them. A leaf grabber can be useful for picking up the leaves. For collecting and transporting, a collapsible bin or a garden bag is very helpful.

Smaller quantities of decomposing leaves can be added layer by layer to the compost.

It is also worthwhile creating a leaf mould in the garden, as the decomposed leaves will yield excellent acidic humus next year, perfect as fertilizer for hydrangeas, rhododendrons, conifers, and other garden plants. Simply construct a leaf bin from wire mesh and fill it with the collected leaves.

The leaves are also suitable for covering bare beds after the autumn harvest and protecting cold-sensitive plants such as rosemary and other Mediterranean herbs and perennials. Just loosely and gently layer the dry leaves around the plant and between the branches. You could also cover the leaves with conifer branches.

Scarifying the lawn

If the lawn is growing unevenly and not densely, it may be due to insufficient oxygen in the soil. Accumulated dead plant parts create a layer of organic material, eventually leading to what is known as thatch. Thatch deprives the grass of light and oxygen, causing the lawn to thin out and grow less green and robust. Heavy, loamy soils and shaded lawns are most susceptible to thatch. Scarifying allows the grass roots to receive more oxygen, enabling them to absorb light and water. This process results in a denser and more resilient lawn. Autumn is an optimal time for scarification. The soil should be at least superficially dry, and the daytime temperature should be below 20 °C. The lawn is first scarified in longitudinal and then in transverse passes with a scarifying rake, creating a faint checkerboard pattern on the soil surface. Typically, work is done with minimal pressure, with the option to increase it in areas where larger moss and thatch deposits remain in the grass.