People in areas with lots of deciduous, leaf-shedding trees like oak, maple, and aspen look forward to autumn's beautiful changing colors. They anticipate the annual display even if they don't agree on whether the season should be called autumn or fall.
Fewer people look forward to cleaning up all those leaves, although a trusty leaf blower can make the job easier.
Depending on where you live in the United States, leaves fall at different times. So, when can you expect fall to fall near you?
The foliage map below can help you find out what to expect in your area.
Keep in mind, the autumn color change times shown above are only estimates. Lots of different factors affect when leaves change color and how vibrant those fall colors will be, including factors like these:
Even the types of trees make a difference. If you have plenty of oak trees nearby, for example, you'll probably see a lot of deep brown foliage once fall arrives. Sweetgum trees will present you with stunning shades of purple-red.
But why do these factors matter?
Foliage color change is caused by a reduction in the amount of sunlight available for leaves to absorb.
During the spring and summer, trees take advantage of all that bright sunlight by making a chemical called chlorophyll in their leaves. Chlorophyll is a green-colored pigment that allows the leaves to capture sunlight's energy and turn it into food.
As days get shorter and nights get colder, however, the trees slow their food production and instead start conserving energy. The leaves prepare for winter by stopping the production of chlorophyll.
After chlorophyll production ceases, other pigments that the leaves' green color had hidden now become visible. Some lend the leaves shades of yellow and orange:
Other types of pigments are made only in autumn. These are the anthocyanins, which give leaves a red color and discourage pests from eating them.
At the same time that all these changes are happening, the trees are taking on another task. They're producing cells that will wedge their way between the leaves and the branches and sever the leaves, causing them to drop once all of their chlorophyll has been broken down.
All of these changes can be affected by weather and environmental conditions:
You won't see these exact same changes on evergreen trees, which include many of the cone-bearing trees like pine, spruce, and hemlock. These trees contain different chemicals inside their needles that make them more resistant to cold. The waxy coating on their needles also adds a layer of cold-weather protection.
With the beautiful colors of fall comes the inspiration for the season's name. Leaves that change color are sure to fall soon after.
As much fun as it might be to kick, stomp through, and occasionally jump into piles of leaves (be careful!), cleaning up leaves is good for the health of your lawn. It takes away material that might encourage mold to grow and leaves your grass clear and ready to absorb sunlight come spring.
If you'd like to find that perfect leaf-removal tool for your property, you can take a look at our Leaf Blower Buyer's Guide. This guide will help you determine the best style of leaf blower for your property so you can breeze through fall cleanup and have more time to enjoy the amazing show around you.