Have you heard about the ‘Leave the Leaves’ movement?
🍁 As tempting as it may be to clean up, consider leaving your leaves, stems and plant stalks overwinter as ground cover.
🍂 Many species of butterflies, moths and other insects need leaves, plant stalks or dead branches for hibernation. By completely cleaning up our gardens, we can be removing important wintering habitats for native wildlife.
Countless other invertebrates require this groundcover including spiders, snails, worms, beetles, millipedes, and mites. These small critters help support others in the ecosystem including chipmunks, turtles, birds, and amphibians.
Read on to learn the benefits of leaving the leaves, the harms from cleaning it up and what to do instead.
Make the pledge to be a Pollinator Pal this month and join the Leave the Leaves movement.
Every Pollinator Counts!
The tradition of clearing up leaves each fall goes against the natural cycles of the Earth.
Fallen leaves acts as mulch for gardens, trees and other shrubbery. This helps the soil retain moisture and adds nutrients as the leaf matter decomposes. You can rake them up into a pile to keep them contained in a brush shelter.
You can also collect the excess to add to your compost over winter for the necessary brown matter.
The Unseen Harms
A recent report from California found that small off-road engines like the ones found in gas-powered leaf blowers are a larger source of smog-forming emissions than the state’s 14.4 million passenger cars.
Exhaust from gas-powered leaf blowers contains hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides — components of smog — plus carbon monoxide and particulate matter, all of which are known to harm the health of people and the planet.
Another factor to consider is the methane that is released when bagged leaves are trapped within a landfill. Yard waste, including grass clippings, pruned branches from trees and shrubs, and fallen leaves, is the third-largest component of municipal solid waste by weight in the United States.
These points form a solid argument to take it easy this fall with the yard work and just leaf them be.
🍁 Notice a storm drain in your area? Do your part to keep it clear!
It is important because it helps to keep waste material from entering the storm sewer system and flowing into our local waterways. In water, these leaves decompose which releases phosphorus and nitrogen. These excess nutrients contribute to algae blooms during the summer. Algae blooms can cause lower oxygen levels in the water which creates challenges for fish and other aquatic species.
⚠️ Also, a blocked sewer means that the water can cause flooding on local roads and possibly nearby homes.
It is a great example of one of those simple actions we can take to keep our streets clean, clear and safe for all.
We must do our part to support local biodiversity by protecting the habitats of these essential creatures!
➡️ We want to know:
❓ Will you participate in ‘Leave the Leaves’ this year?
Check out our related blog posts on 8 Best Upcycling Garden Ideas for an Eco-friendly Outdoors & 10 Ways to Reconnect with Nature.
💚 Tell us why or why not in the comments!