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Dealing With Natural Debris on Your Lawn

Natural lawn debris can be a nuisance, but there are actually more options for it than simply throwing it out. We have the info you need to make the best decisions for your lawn.

Especially this time of year, it’s common for natural debris to build up on lawns. From leaves to tree branches, here’s what you need to know and what you should (or shouldn’t) be doing about it.

Is Natural Debris Always Bad?

No. Natural debris is mainly a problem when it’s:

  • dense/in large amounts on your turf and
  • on your turf for extended periods of time.

This is especially true if you have a lawn that’s recently been seeded or had sod laid. Natural debris buildups can also be unsafe for walking or mowing and can house animals you may not want on your lawn.

However, when handled right, natural debris like leaves can actually help your lawn. As an added bonus, using yard trimmings instead of throwing them out helps cut down on ~12.11% of our country’s yearly solid waste.

Different Types of Natural Debris, and What To Do With Them



Leaves in large/dense groups can smother grass and prevent sunlight and air from reaching it. In smaller/spread-out groups, though, they can offer nutrients/organic material that your lawn needs.

What To Do With Them

  • Regularly run them over/mulch them with a lawn mower to speed up decomposition (if you’re using a regular lawn mower to do this, they may just need a couple of passes at the highest setting possible).
  • Store them in garbage bags for use as compost later (depending on the leaf type, they may need anywhere up to two years to properly decompose).
  • Move them onto your flower and/or shrub beds to decompose there.

No matter what you decide to do, we recommend blowing leaves over raking them whenever possible, especially if you recently seeded/laid sod.



Branches can damage your lawn when they fall, as well as smother it if they’re large/densely packed and on your lawn for too long.

What To Do With Them

If they’re slight enough, a regular mower can deal with them, but just use discretion (you don’t want them harming your mower and or even you). Otherwise, you’ll likely need a more heavy-duty mower to break them down.

Grass Clippings

During the warmer months of spring and summer especially, these can create thatch—or a layer of partially decomposed grass that builds up between the soil and turf and prevents growth. But as long as they’re not too densely packed, grass clippings can often be left alone.

What To Do With Them

As long as you don’t mind the look, you can simply leave smaller traces of them on your lawn to act as mulch.

Fairway Green Knows NC Lawns

Managing natural debris is only a small part of total lawn care. For everything else, our custom services can keep your lawn healthy season to season. To get started, schedule your free lawn estimate.