If you dread the annual fall leaf-raking marathon, I have good news for you: Raking and collecting leaves every autumn is a tradition without scientific basis. Research has proven that mowing leaves into your lawn can improve its vigor, and observation shows that unraked leaves in planting beds don’t smother shade-tolerant perennials.
Based upon research at several universities, the organic matter and nutrients from leaves mown into lawn areas has been proven to improve turf quality. The tests resulted in improved soil and healthy lawns with few remnant leaves visible the following spring.
You can achieve similar results if you set your mower to cut at 3 inches, and mow at least once a week during peak leaf fall when your lawn reaches a height of 4 inches. Leaves shred most efficiently when slightly damp, so mow after a light dew. If you follow these simple guidelines, you will never rake another leaf and improve the quality of your soil.