Why Do Leaves Change Colors In The Fall?

If you’ve spent any time enjoying the cooler weather this month, you may have noticed that the trees in your yard are beginning to change color. Soon, leaves in shades of yellow, red, and orange will burst onto the scene across Pennsylvania. You may even begin to notice that your lawn or patio installation in Bucks County already has a few stray brown leaves on it. But why do leaves change color in the fall?

A leaf’s color comes from chemicals called “pigments.” Pigments are natural chemicals produced by leaf cells and they each represent a different color. Most leaves have three types of pigments in varying amounts:

  • Chlorophyll causes leaves to look green. Chlorophyll is the most important pigment because it helps trees use photosynthesis.
  • Carotenoid causes leaves to turn orange, brown, or yellow.
  • Anthocyanin causes leaves to turn red.

As the seasons change, the Earth travels around the sun. As our planet makes its yearly journey, certain parts of the globe get more sunlight during certain seasons. For example, in Pennsylvania, we get the most amount of sunlight during the month of June. When sunlight is plentiful, tree leaves produce more chlorophyll to photosynthesize more energy. This causes the leaves you see to be plump and green, as they photosynthesize as much sunlight as possible in anticipation of the upcoming winter.

When fall arrives, the amount of sunlight begins to wane. This means that the tree doesn’t need as many chlorophyll cells, and they begin to be replaced by carotenoid and anthocyanin pigments. As the amount of chlorophyll in each leaf gets lower and lower, we see the green colors of summer dissipate as the leaves turn red, orange, and yellow. Finally, when winter arrives, the last of the chlorophyll cells die off and the leaves fall onto the ground.

As you enjoy the fall colors, don’t forget that your trees and your lawn need special care ahead of the fall season. Leaves can smother your grass, leaving you with brown patches by the time spring rolls around again. Landscaping, hardscaping, and mulch companies in Bucks County like Anthony Landscapes can help you perfectly prepare your home for a safe fall and winter season. Give us a call today!