Experts say that unless you enjoy reseeding in spring, you shouldn’t leave leaves on the lawn over winter. The question is whether to take the time and risk the blisters to do the job yourself or hire some help.
Top-rated lawn pros say that leaves left to pile up can form a heavy mass that can kill or damage grass and ornamental plants. Matted leaves block sunlight and reduce water evaporation, which can cause fungus, mold and disease.
Smaller leaves that decompose quickly or blow away — such as those from honey locust, dogwood, ginkgo and birch trees — can often be left on the ground if they don’t get too thick.
There are two main ways to clear leaves: Running a mower over them, sometimes repeatedly, to reduce them to small bits that can be left on the lawn as added nutrients, or raking and gathering them.
If you’re thinking of hiring a lawn pro, you may want to wait until almost all your leaves are down, or have them come out several times. Some companies will charge a flat fee to cover the cost of coming out and using equipment, with an additional hourly charge to cover labor.
Get several bidsww and check references. Make sure the company is appropriately licensed for your location.
When hiring, ask for a free estimate and find out where the company takes the leaves. Some take them to a recycling facility, where they’re composted over winter and sold to landscapers in spring as a soil amendment. Companies may also chop leaves and apply them to your garden or compost pile.
Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a resource for local consumer reviews. •