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Lawn Ecology: 5 Ways To Take Care Of Your Lawn This Fall

Oct 01, 2015 02:41 PM EDT
Raking Leaves
Raking leaves doesn't actually benefit your lawn. Instead, try composting or mulching to create natural fertilizers.
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons )

Suburban areas generally provide an amplified autumn ambiance with rolling hills of colorful trees. But a recent study has revealed that city trees actually grow more successfully than suburban trees, and it all comes down to how we take care of our lawns.

Ecologists from Boston University took core samples of trees growing in the suburbs and those growing in cities and found that those growing along Boston streets grew twice as fast as those outside the city. Their study was recently published in Environmental Pollution.

Why is this the case?

Researchers explained that trees growing in the city benefit from sidewalks that trap heat, warming tree trunks during cold months. There, they also don't have to compete as much for light and space. They also benefit from the extra nitrogen and carbon dioxide that is present in air pollution.

So how should you take care of your lawn in a way that helps the trees this fall?

1. Allow leaves to accumulate

We are often instructed to rake leaves right away so that they don't get soggy and wind up suffocating grass. While that's certainly the case, it doesn't mean you they all must be removed. Doing so creates unnatural nitrogen cycles so let some accumulate.

2. Add leaves to your compost pile

Pile leaves in an out-of-the-way spot instead of bagging them. A compost leaf pile should be placed where there is adequate drainage and no free-standing water.  Adding leaves to compost effectively increases nitrogen content and creates a valuable natural fertilizer that can be used in the spring. You can also make leaf mold using a similar composting method.

3. Mulch your leaves

Use your lawn mower to chop fallen leaves into tiny pieces, which allows smaller particles to act as a natural fertilizer and weed suppressant as they sift down through soil layers and provide essential nutrients, says a Michigan State University study. Avoid piling leaves against the base of trees which is known as volcano mulching. This method traps moisure that rots exposed roots also creates an inviting habitat for rodents that chew the tender bark.

4. Use some leaves for winter mulch

Save some of the leaves from your compost pile and use them as winter mulch. Spreading leaves in a thick layer around the base of perennial plants and shrubs helps to protect their roots from winter temperatures.

5. Continue to water and aerate soil

It's important to continue watering your lawn throughout the fall. You also need to aerate your lawn so that oxygen, water and fertilizer can easily reach the roots. Aerating prevents soil compaction, which limits plant, lawn and tree growth. 

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Samantha on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13

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