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Science Says You Should Skip Raking Leaves in the Fall

National Wildlife Federation

Science says skip raking leaves in the fall. After all, those leaves are “habitat.”

Sick and tired of chopping wood and all those “honey-do…” chores? Want to have a good excuse to skip one more chore this Fall? Go hunting, fishing, foraging, just don’t rake your leaves! Those leaves are habitat for all kinds of little critters!

Naturalist, wildlife expert and nature geek David Mizejewski writes on The National Wildlife Federation blog,

You shouldn’t feel obligated to rake up every last leaf in your yard this fall. Leave leaves on the ground — they have a lot of benefit to wildlife and your garden. Just let leaves stay where they fall.

Fallen leaves within the vicinity of trees are a pretty natural occurrence in the fall. That layered leaf litter creates its own ecosystem as part of greater habitat for salamanders, chipmunks, box turtles, toads, shrews, earthworms, and many other insects species that are protein sources within the food web.

Butterflies and moths overwinter as pupae, providing caterpillars as an important food source for birds in the spring when they’re seeking out food to give their hatching young. Discarding your leaves also removes these beneficial and beautiful insects from your yard.

Fallen leaves also create naturally-formed mulch that will suppress weed growth and fertilize the soil as they decompose. You can track the changing of Fall colors using this foliage calculator.

Photo by Randy Bray
Photo by Randy Bray

If you must rake your lawn, don’t discard the leaves. Some communities offer municipal composting services and will pick up your yard waste in a curbside container. If you don’t have this service in your community, ask your waste removal company to look into it and start your own compost for next year’s garden.

Your neighbors surely hate waking up to the sound of your leaf blower in the morning. Don’t be lazy, use a rake. With the weather cooling down and the sun shying away from showing itself, outdoor activity and Vitamin D is something we all need more of this time of year.

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Science Says You Should Skip Raking Leaves in the Fall