Unless you’re raking a pile of leaves to jump in, it isn’t much fun. And, a large yard with a lot of trees means all day raking. So, if you’re not looking for free mulch or to compost leaves, scientists suggest leaving them alone to benefit wildlife and the garden. Yes, let the leaves be.
BENEFITS OF NOT RAKING LEAVES
1. WILDLIFE HABITAT OF LEAF LITTER
The National Wildlife Federation states: “The leaf layer is its own mini ecosystem!”
The leaves are a natural habitat for butterflies, salamanders, chipmunks, box turtles, toads, shrews, earthworms and others. They lay eggs in the leaves and feed on and under the leaf layer. By raking or blowing leaves, you disrupt their life cycle and eliminate beneficial insects.
Start peeling the layers back of a leaf pile, and see all the wildlife.
2. INCREASE BENEFICIAL INSECTS
By providing a habitat, you increase the population of beneficial insects for gardening season. When leaves are removed from the yard, automatically you’re decreasing beneficial insects that are your friends come growing season.
3. INCREASE SOIL HEALTH
Add leaves as a mulch to decompose or till into the soil to add organic matter and nutrients. Organic matter in soils will help regulate soil moisture. Also, earthworms love soil with decomposed leaves. In fact, if you’re looking for earthworms, scrape back to the bottom layer of leaves and you’ll be amazed.
4. AVOID POLLUTION FROM LEAF BLOWERS
Let’s face it, not everyone has time to rake. If you let the leaves be, you can avoid noise pollution of leaf blowers and fossil fuels to run them.
5. SAVE TIME
Depending on yard size and the amount of deciduous trees that are in the yard will determine the hours it will take to rake. But, one thing is for sure…count on hours and often a weekly chore until all leaves have fallen. Do you have time for that?
6. REDUCE WASTE
According to the 2013 Environmental Protection Agency’s Report, Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures, 28 percent of household waste was food and yard trimmings. Prevent waste by letting leaves be, or carefully moving them to create wildlife habitats.