Biologists at the National Wildlife Federation are urging people to stop raking their leaves. Here’s why:
1. It’s unnatural. Leaves are meant to stay where they fall for all the reasons below. “A leaf layer several inches deep is a natural thing in any area where trees naturally grow,” NWF says on its website. The leaf layer is its own mini ecosystem.
2. Wild Life Habitat. Many wildlife species live in or rely on the leaf layer for shelter and food, including salamanders, chipmunks, box turtles, toads, shrews, earthworms, many insects species.
3. Free fertilizer and mulch. For gardeners, fallen leaves offer a double benefit. They form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and, as they decompose, they add nutrients to the soil. Why spend money on mulch and fertilizer when the trees will do it for you?
4. Butterflies. Along with the leaves you’re throwing away butterfly and moth pupae attached to them. Not only will you not have any beautiful butterflies in your yard come spring, you also won’t have many birds, who rely on caterpillars to feed their babies.
5. Reduce Waste. Throwing away leaves in plastic bags is very wasteful. Yard trimmings account for around 13 of solid waste (approximately 33 million tons) in landfills.
6. Reduce Pollution. Gas leaf blowers and the trucks used to haul them away cause pollution. So does artificial fertilizer run-off, which is contributing to the largest “dead zone” on Earth in the Gulf of Mexico. There is no run-off from leaf fertilizer.
7. Save time and your back. You have enough work to do, why add another counterproductive chore?
If you have to rake your leaves, compost them or send them to a community garden. Anywhere but a landfill.