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The benefits of not raking leaves

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The Fall season brings along many wonderful things, from fresh pumpkin pie to trees turning into beautiful shades or red, orange, and gold. And who doesn’t like going out of their way just a little bit to step on that crunchy looking leaf on the sidewalk? But Fall is also the season of raking leaves and time-consuming yard cleanup. But what if we didn’t worry about raking leaves at all? What are the benefits to not raking leaves? 

  • If leaves are left on the ground to decay, they will reintroduce vital nutrients back into the soil. This can help to create optimal growing conditions for our yard or gardens the following year.
  • Decaying leaves also make great mulch! So why spend money on mulch when you can make your own?
  • Yard waste also takes up a lot of space in landfills, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions that cause and accelerate the rate of climate change. The more yard waste we keep out of the landfill, the better.
  • Fallen leaves also provide vital food, shelter, and nesting material for wildlife including mammals, birds, amphibians, and arthropods. For example, fallen leaves are a great location for overwintering caterpillars that will emerge as butterflies and moths the following year, and they are unlikely to survive if they are sent to the landfill. So, leaving the leaves can also protect and maintain biodiversity. 

While you can often leave the leaves to decay right where they fall, there are some other considerations:

  • Dense leaves can smother grass. Consider running over fallen leaves with a lawnmower to break them up into smaller pieces. You can also blow the small leaf pieces to another area of the yard such as a garden or flower bed. 
  • If the leaves must be disposed of, consider composting them on your own property instead of sending them to the landfill. Alternatively, you can designate a location to place leaves, sticks, twigs, and branches to provide wildlife habitat and shelter for the cold winter months.