Leave the Leaves Alone: Nature Group Tells Canadians Not to Rake Their Lawns*

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Don’t rake your lawn: those leaves are still useful. Source: ksenvironmental.com.au

*Yes, I know I’ve written about not cleaning up gardens and lawns in the fall before, in fact just a few weeks ago, but in the past I’ve always felt like the voice of one crying in the wilderness: I seemed all alone in promoting this simple yet effective environmentally friendly gardening tip. This fall (2018), though, it seems like everyone is jumping on the “leave your lawns and gardens alone in the fall” bandwagon. The text below is taken from a CBC Canadapress release. Thanks to Gabriel Martin for pointing the release out to me.

Good news for the lazy: Canada’s leading conservation group is asking people not to rake their lawn.

“It’s good news if you don’t like raking the leaves because leaving them on the ground is the environmentally friendly thing to do,” said Andrew Holland, a spokesman for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

He said the leaves provide a space for many small creatures to survive the winter.

“They provide habitat for butterflies, moths and different kinds of insects that can overwinter under the leaves. It’s also good for frogs and toads. The insects that overwinter provide food for birds in the spring,” he said.

20181109B Dan Pancamo, Wikimedia Commons.jpg

Letting your garden be in the fall is like putting out a bird feeder. Source: Dan Pancamo, Wikimedia Commons

Dan Kraus, the NCC’s senior conservation biologist, said people can also help migratory and resident birds survive winter by not clearing up their gardens.

“Fruits and seeds that remain on flowers and shrubs are a crucial food source that sustains many songbirds, such as goldfinches, jays and chickadees,” said Kraus.

“Overwintering insects in our yards also provide an important food source for birds. Providing winter habitats for our native birds and insects is just as important as providing food and shelter during the spring and summer.”

Holland said if you’re worried about smothering the lawn or having clogged gutters, the leaves can be tucked under bushes or in other areas away from your house.

“These leaves provide good mulch for shrubs and help prevent the freeze/thaw cycle in the roots through the winter,” he said.

“You want to reduce your leaf clutter to dime-size pieces. You’ll know you’re done when about half an inch of grass can be seen through the mulched leaf layer. Once the leaf bits settle in, microbes and worms get to work recycling them,” the website states.

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