Should I Rake Leaves Before Mowing?

I’m Jim the website owner

I remember being a beginner and starting my journey as a gardener.

This is how it started for me; I bought a new house in a quiet rural area just outside London. The house came with the largest garden I have ever owned.

(Actually it was the first proper private garden I have owned). This was a little daunting at first but then over the years I became more confident with general gardening. One question always stuck firmly in my mind though: Should I be raking my lawn in my garden?

I had been living at my property for around 5 years before I realised I was doing it wrong. I was always raking the leaves and then usually giving it the “once over” on my basic twin blade lawnmower. This seemed a little unnecessary as well as time consuming.

Home sweet home

So the answer to the first question: Should I rake the leaves before I start mowing? The answer is No. This can be answered with a resounding no in my humble opinion so don’t be so hasty. I was surprised myself when I discovered this little fact. Actually that’s an understatement,  I was very pleasantly surprised! No more raking then bagging up leaves. Saved me at least 2 hours of my Sunday!

Great, so now what?

What can I do instead of raking leaves?

Theres a few options you have. Let me tell you about the option I took. One year I thought to myself, well why dont I just try to mow the lawn without raking the leaves at all? Personally though this didn’t turn out well for me. My basic lawn mower is battery powered abut still quite powerful but the leaves just stuck into the blades and clogged everything up quite badly.

My garden is fronted right next to a nature reserve which has several large trees that deposit a huge amount into my garden The biggest offender is the field mapel (Acer campestre). They are probably the toughest and largest native species of tree leaves we have here in the UK.  So that backfired. Another potential hazard is if you do decide to leave the leaves on your lawn when they effectively break down by rotting it may cause an increase in fungus growth and naturally take longer to decompose if they weren’t broken down into small clippings, say by a expert lawnmower designed specifically for the job. More about this later in the article. But for now what to do, what to do….

So after being lucky enough talking with a neighbour who knew his stuff and was rather gregarious (an older gentleman) I discovered we basically have two choices when we have leaves in our garden or on the lawn. The first is you may be surprised to hear is do nothing. Yes that’s right, let the leaves lay there and rot. Now I know what your thinking, why? isn’t this bad for the garden or just makes me a a bad gardener? Actually no it doesn’t. But If you are determined to collect Autumn leaves from your garden gardeners world has a great guide.

Lawns do need to be taken care of thats should be a no-brainer for most gardeners to realise, not just cutting the grass and sprinkling a handful of fertiliser though. Thats the basics. Grass needs to all kinds of nutrients and fertilizers so why not use nature? The answer was staring me in the face. How about I  use the leaves as fertilser instead of raking them?

Secondly you can look into something called “leave mulching” by buying a new special type of lawn mower. 

Finally last but not least is the possibility of purchasing a leaf-blower if you dont have one in your expert garden tool arsenal already. Or if you have a generous friendly neighbour (maybe not so good idea around London).

Are there alternatives to mowing a lawn with leaves?

Yes! But let me tell you how I found out. This question had me scratching my head at first so then it was back on Google again. My neighbour was eating his Sunday lunch and I was too polite to ask again anyway. I typed into Google “how to chew up garden leaves?” Well this led me to to the term “mulch” and the rest is now history. Believe or not the term “mulching mowers” is regularly used in gardening.

I then did some more research and found out all about mulching garden lawnmowers. The basic idea is to use one of these specialist lawn mowers to literally chew up and spit out garden leaves on a lawn. You can find out about my research by clicking here on best best mulching lawn mower. The result from using this speciality lawn mower will be leaf clippings which can then be collected by emptying your mulching lawnmower and then sprinkling then “mulch” over your lawn. It acts in the same way as using a fertiliser as if you were indeed applying “leaf-compost” directly to your lawn.

Don’t bin them or burn them!

I was raking my brain (no pun intended) to how to solve the problem. Then I started googling it, I also asked a neighbour of mine. Seems there is a solution to the problem.

My final Answer

So after that long semi-waffle did I still think I should rake leaves before I mow? No. Since the introduction of Mulching mowers into the United Kingdom its as our American cousins would say a no-brainer.

Thanks for reading


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