PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Fall may be the most beautiful time of the year, and many places have made leaf watching a tourism windfall, but the leaves aren’t as pretty when they’re ankle-deep in the yard. Left alone, they can do real damage to your lawn.

If your yard has deciduous trees, then fall can be a back-breaking time. Raking leaves is strenuous work, but it’s essential to keep your lawn lush and healthy.

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“Leaves should be removed once they accumulate onto the turf to where they’re choking out the turf and they’re blocking out the sunlight because it will thin out the grass and then cause issues long term,” said landscaping professional Matt Colwell.

Mold, in particular, is one problem with letting leaves collect. There are alternatives to raking, of course. You can mulch them back into your lawn, but you’ll need to stay on top of it as they continue to fall.

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“Using a mulching mower to clear your leaves is easier than using a rake and can help the leaves decompose quicker. Be sure that you do this, though, before the leaves become too thick or when they’re wet,” said Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks.

Many people hire out this time-consuming task. Most pros will rake, blow and vacuum leaves away depending on the layout of your yard. Some will even chop up the leaves and leave them for you to use in the garden or add to a compost pile. Angie’s List members report paying an average of $180 for leaf removal, but each job is different.

“To be able to get a good accurate price, we need to go to the property, assess it, see what the debris is there and what’s still to come later,” Colwell said.

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Angie says to wait until you have leaves on the ground before getting free, in-person estimates from different contractors. She also suggests saving some of the leaves somewhere to turn into compost that you can spread around your shrubs and gardens in the springtime. It keeps them from going to the landfill and saves you from buying mulch in the spring.