The spectacular fall display of leaf colors is breathtaking. The brilliant reds, sunny yellows and oranges are wonderful to view, but what causes the timing of the color change? A number of factors determine when leaves begin the change in color. Shorter days and longer nights is the most influential factor, but temperature and rainfall also play a part in leaf color change. For example, this summer’s drought may cause early leaf color and leaf drop. Trees compensate for adverse weather conditions by starting dormancy early. All too soon, the reds, yellows and oranges disappear and leave bare branches. Those colorful leaves drop to the ground, creating a new chore for many homeowners.
While jumping in the large leaf piles is one option for dealing with all the newly fallen leaves, it isn’t the most practical option. It is important to remove leaves from the lawn soon after they’ve fallen. Lawns need air and light to thrive and grow. Leaves block both of these lawn necessities and may suffocate the lawn, causing brown, dead patches. Although the lawn doesn’t benefit from leaf cover, many plant beds do appreciate the winter protection. Some lawn mowers have a mulch option that will break down the leaves for use around trees, shrubs and perennials. The leaves will help keep moisture and warmth in the soil during the cold winter months. This added protection becomes very important after the ground has frozen. The leaves also add nutrients to the soil for eventual plant uptake. Use leaves from trees that are disease and insect free. Diseased leaves can contaminate other parts of the landscape, creating future headaches for the homeowner.
Most homeowners have more leaves than they can possibly use in the landscape. Many municipalities in the Chicago area have a leaf removal program in place. Check with your town or city for more details concerning leaf pick up dates and options for removal.
Click here for more information on the benefits of leaf mulch. Just to reiterate, fall is an excellent time for leaf mulch application around trees and all planting beds. Not only will it maintain soil temperature and improve moisture retention, the leaves will decompose over winter releasing vital nutrients into the soil. This promotes strong plant growth the next growing season. Contact Kramer Tree Specialists for information on the premium leaf mulch blend we have available for homeowners.