Hire landscaping pros for leaf removal

Written by by Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
Updated February 15, 2013
A shallow collection of dried leaves on the lawn is usually not damaging to grass. (Photo courtesy of Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp)

Save time and avoid aches and pains by hiring a professional to clean up your landscape by removing leaves and lawn debris.

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Lawn maintenance and landscape crews may offer the perfect solution to homeowners looking for a way to remove leaves, including some environmentally friendly options for one of nature’s most beneficial gifts.

Some companies take your leaves to a recycling facility where they’re composted during the winter and sold back to landscapers in spring as a soil amendment. Some companies will vacuum and chop the leaves and leave them for you to use in your garden or add to your compost pile. Some companies will mow and mulch the leaves into tiny bits, leaving them on the lawn where they decompose, improving the soil and adding trace amounts of nutrients. The leaves also attract worms — nature’s soil aerators.

Even if your property doesn’t have a lot of trees, leaves can still find a way in and they should be addressed. “Leaves are heavy sitting on the lawn all winter,” says Scott Tepper, owner of highly rated Dowsh Lawn Care in St. Louis. “Snow and rain pack them down, killing the grass.”

The best method to clean up leaves depends on your property’s layout, says Brandon Bunchkowski, owner of highly rated Best Choice Landscaping in Milwaukee. Crews may blow leaves from flower beds and the lawn into piles then vacuum them up and haul them away. “Most people like them sucked up,” Bunchkowski says.

Mowing and chopping the leaves into small bits usually takes less time and may sometimes cost less than gathering the leaves and carting them off. However, larger leaves — such as maple, sycamore and oak — may be too big for chopping and mulching, or it may take several passes of a mulching mower to do the job. Smaller leaves, such as birch and honeylocust, frequently can be left on the lawn if not too thick. These leaves usually decompose quickly or simply blow away.

Companies frequently rely on the customer to notify them when the leaves have fallen on their property so they can schedule the work. A typical leaf removal fee ranges from $100 on up, depending on the size of the property, number of trees and methods used.

Don’t forget that fall cleanup consists of more than just leaves, says Dean Caprini, office manager at highly rated Benito’s Landscaping in Westmont, Ill. Perennials also need to be cut back, weeds removed and gutters cleaned.

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, the Hoosier Gardener, lives in Indianapolis. A freelance writer, her work appears in many publications. Sharp, a director of the Garden Writers Association, also speaks about gardening throughout the Midwest.

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