Make sure falling leaves don't hurt grass seedlings

Leaves falling off of trees could hurt new grass.
Leaves falling off of trees could hurt new grass.
Though fall is a good time to get grass seeds planted, some homeowners may wonder what the effect falling leaves may have on their plans.

That was the question of one reader of the Washington Post who wrote into the paper's Green Scene column wondering if fall foliage will stifle grass seeds. The reader wondered how they might be able to remove leaves without disrupting new grass.

In his response, Joel Lerner, president of Environmental Design in Capitol View Park, Maryland, said that people who have used lawn mowers on the fallen leaves will probably find success. Lerner noted that leaves that are left on the ground can hurt or kill grass.

"Mow the leaves on your lawn into tiny particles that help fertilize the soil," Lerner wrote. "If the leaves become thick, grind them with the mower or take them to the compost pile."

As it turns out, fall is a very good time to get a head start on next year's lawn. Not only does the season present an ideal set of conditions for grass growth, getting started early can help lawns put down deep roots, which can keep weeds away and help grass deal with drought conditions.