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Leave Your Leaves

Instead of raking them away, keep the leaves on your lawn for personal and environmental benefits
Author: Alley L. Biniarz
2 years ago
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A beautiful chill is in the air and that means the falling leaves are not far behind. Autumn is supposed to be a time of renewal where we see nature begin to shed the season past to kickstart the upcoming period of rest, which can instead trigger homeowners into a frenzy of fall garden cleanup (including raking up all those leaves that have fallen). As aggravating as it can be to see the patches of leaves on our lawns, we may want to rethink this task when it comes to our fall chores.

Saving the pollinators

We’ve all heard the campaigns for saving the pollinators by planting a butterfly garden or increasing biodiversity in our yards, but we can also increase pollinator populations by not raking our leaves!

Pollinators are a keystone species, meaning that their existence is critical to the balance and health of our ecosystem. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 75% of our food crop types depend on the help of pollinators and 1/3 of our food is brought to us by pollinators. This is why we’re working to restore, reestablish, and protect these species. 

Since our lawns are the largest managed crop, they’re also the largest potential pollinator habitat and the perfect place to start restoring those essential pollinator communities. Solitary bees build nests in dead plant stems, bumblebee queens hibernate in shallow holes, butterflies and moths lay eggs on the undersides of fall leaves and then seek shelter under leaf cover as the days get colder. Those browned leaves, if left on our lawns, are the planet’s butterfly nursery, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.

The simple act of leaving our leaves can lead to a massive increase in pollinators come spring, which will help with our gardens, our pest control, and for the overall function of our ecosystem.

Fertilize your grass naturally

There have been rumours going around that leaving leaves in place on our lawns causes blotchy and uneven patches of growth for the grass, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. According to Texas Horitulturalists, turf can take a lot of volume of leaves before it becomes “excess” or harmful to its growth. Excess leaves would mean that the lawn is completely covered by a thick layer and becomes smothered.

By leaving an appropriate amount of tree leaves to accumulate in and around the landscape, we’re providing an excellent source of natural organic matter and nutrients for our lawns and additional landscapes. Broken down organic matter like leaves works the same way that compost does: as a slow-release nutrient-dense fertilizer that breaks down gradually over winter and gives your lawn all that it needs to thrive for spring.

By using what nature provides us, we can eliminate the need for synthetic lawn sprays that are damaging to soil life, harmful to human and pet health, and further injure our pollinator species according to Kiss the Ground soil experts.

If you have a lot of leaves on your lawn, you can always gently rake them and place them as mulch on your vegetable gardens, herb pots, or to distribute excess onto flower beds for that same nutrient boost.

Allows you to slow down when nature does

If we’re not motivated by any of the other points, we can all agree that the idea of saving time and labour is reason enough to stop raking our leaves. Autumn is meant to be a time to slow down, go inwards and reflect, and finally settle down after the busy spring and summer seasons. Unfortunately, many of us work right through this slowdown, which leads to further burnout and exhaustion at a time where we should be more still.

As simple as it seems, something as small as not raking your leaves can get us into a mindset of stillness. It reminds us that we aren’t separate from nature; we’re absolutely a part of it. We don’t need to be ramping it up just as we’re supposed to let go.

Instead of spending that time raking leaves, exchange it for time spent with your family and friends, or doing something that you love. It will bring a whole new perspective to autumn and allow you to enjoy the gorgeous weather and the wildlife that might visit your garden.

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