The Why’s and How’s of Raking

Raking leaves results in a healthier lawn and garden. (Courtesy: Martin Fellows at flickr.com)

Raking leaves results in a healthier lawn and garden.
(Courtesy: Martin Fellows at flickr.com)

If you grew up in the part of the country that really experiences the seasons, then you probably have fond memories of fall. The air is getting chilly enough to need some sort of jacket, but it is not the frigid cold we all associate with winter. And, of course, there are the leaves. The leaves turning colors on trees in your neighborhood and then falling off and swaying to the ground are memories that each of us, who have lived in this climate, has clinged to.

And this leads to the chore of raking and discarding the leaves. Did you pile them up and burn them or did you bag and leave them for the waste management crews to take away?

Back in the day there was nothing controversial about raking and discarding leaves. However, now a days there are environmental issues. In addition, many people may not understand the reasons why the chore of raking is so important in the caring of your lawn.

The Pros and Cons of Raking Leaves

The pro overwhelmingly beats out the cons when deciding if you should or should not rake leaves. The issues that fall on the pro side involve the maintenance of the lawn.

For example, healthy plant growth is promoted when leaves are raked up and removed from lawn and garden. The absence of leaves permits the grass to absorb the essential sunlight. Leaves left on lawns can get wet and packed and can damage the lawn and can cause a scrappy look. Your lawn looks so much neater and is so much healthier as a result of raking.

Moreover, the activity of raking offers thatch maintenance for the lawn. Thatch is decaying stems and foliage caught between the growing grass blades and surface soil. The process of raking preserves the thatch into a healthier thin layer. If the thatch is allowed to grow thicker than 1-inch, it blocks the moisture and air from getting to the grass roots and suffocates the roots as well as stress the entire lawn.

Only environmental issues can offer a reason not to rake. Bags of leaves wind up in landfills; leaves raked into the street get washed down gutters, clog up the sewer system and end up affecting streams and waterways with nitrogen and phosphorus as they decay in the water. This promotes the growth of algae, which depletes the water of oxygen and kills fish and other marine life.

If you pile the leaves up and burn them, then the smoke could cause problems.

However, keeping the leaves, shredding them so they can decompose into compost, using them as mulch around perennials, or plowing them into vegetable garden soil would make the environmental questions moot.

How to Rake Leaves Out of Bushes

Leaves can also pose problems if not removed from bushes. They retain moisture that can cause bushes to rot and can also host pests and diseases. Removing them from bushes is just as essential as removing them from your lawn.

It is suggested that you use a flexible shrub rake to help you perform the task of pulling leaves out of bushes. This type of rake is a narrow variety of a flexible lawn rake. It permits you to dig into the small spaces beneath the bushes. If there are tighter areas you need to reach, experts suggest you use a small handheld rake.

Before you do any raking you should turn off the sprinklers and keep from watering for at least two days to allow the leaves to dry. Dry leaves are easier to remove than wet ones. Actually do the raking after a consecutive number of sunny, dry days.

Remove leaves from the top of evergreen bushes with a small shrub rake or hand rake. Simply pull the rake toward you over the top of the shrub.

Glide the tines of the hand rake under the branches of evergreen and deciduous shrubs until the tines are close to the trunk. Pull the rake toward you to tug the leaves out from underneath the bush.

You can also use the small handheld rake to get to the leaves near the trunk. Use your hands to pull out any matted leaves in the center of the woody section of the shrub.

About Robert Janis

Written by Robert Janis for LawnEq - Your specialists for Lawn Mower Parts and Small Engine Parts. We offer genuine premium OEM parts for Land Pride, Toro and many more dependable manufacturers.

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