It’s been a rainy, chilly October for most Iowans, with more rain in the immediate forecast. The unpleasant weather has prompted many Iowans to put off raking their leaves. Extension horticulturist Maryanna Anderson says leaving wet leaves on the ground can mean your once-green lawn remains brown in the spring.

“These leaves falling on the grass pile up and they can suffocate the grass if they are not removed fairly soon,” Anderson says. “They can probably go on for a little while but if people don’t ever bother to pick them up, they can suffocate the grass.” Anderson says those wet leaves can blanket your grass and kill it, in addition to creating a potential health hazard for the homeowner.

Anderson says, “Because they’re going to be wet, that’s a great place for mold to be developing and when you do finally start to rake the leaves, you get all this mold flying up in the air.” Even if Iowa sees more rain — or snow — in the next several days, Anderson says the odds dictate that the weather will improve eventually and drier conditions will return.

She says, “Hopefully, within the next couple of weeks, people should be able to get out there and get their leaves up and that should minimize the problems that we’re having.” The wet weather is causing another concern. The moisture is prompting grass to continue growing later in the season than usual, meaning, Iowans will likely have to break out the mower at least one more time. Anderson says to take note of the cutting height.

She says, “This time of year, we’re recommending mowing it to two-and-a-half to three inches because you want to do one of the last mowings for the season and you don’t want it so tall it flops over and suffocates itself.” Also, don’t crop the grass too short, as that could also result in an unhealthy, patchy lawn in the spring.