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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Skip raking "leaf litter" now. Wait about a month

Homeowners typically face the urge to rake up their yards during cold weather. They’re ”cleaning it up” they tell themselves.
However, they’re also endangering their vegetation (everything from grass to trees) by doing it now.   Except in unusual spots, let the leaf litter stay where it is. Only remove it if it piles up due to a building’s shape, or where it hinders travel (such as a walkway).
You see, this yearly accumulation of dead material is nature’s way of insulating the things in the ground – primarily roots. Remove it and the fragile plant roots can be damaged or killed by extreme cold (In a forest, nobody ever rakes the leaves; and plants there do just fine; most weeds are discouraged too).
Instead, you could run a lawn mower over the leaves, cutting them into tiny bits which will  fall down between the grass blades and still cover the roots. A bonus is that many kinds of birds like to poke through the shredded pieces for food. In north Texas, wait until late February (after the last frost, probably) to rake it all away.