As the chill of autumn begins to roll in, many of us in West Michigan are not only enjoying the vibrant colors of fall foliage but also preparing for the inevitable – falling leaves. Understanding the science behind this phenomenon can help us better anticipate when to expect our yards to be blanketed in leaves and when to schedule those important fall and winter cleanup tasks.
The process begins with the shortening days of fall, signaling trees to prepare for the winter. As daylight dwindles, the production of chlorophyll (which gives leaves their green hue) slows down, revealing the beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows we associate with autumn. The tree, in an effort to conserve water and energy for the colder months, releases a hormone that causes a separation layer to form at the base of the leaf stem. Once this layer is complete, the leaf detaches and gracefully descends to the ground.
With current temperatures hovering around 55 degrees in West Michigan, we can expect the majority of leaves to start their descent within the next few weeks. So, for those in areas like Allendale and Hudsonville, it's the perfect time to start thinking about leaf cleanup, fall cleanup, and even winter cleanup.
But let's not forget: after the leaves comes the snow! For those who dread the thought of shoveling or are too busy enjoying winter sports at Silver Lake Sand Dunes, remember that there are local businesses that specialize in snow removal too. So, as you rake up those leaves, don't forget to plan ahead for the snowflakes that will soon follow!