Why Science Says You Shouldn’t Rake Fallen Leaves
The National Wildlife Federation has some interesting points on why raking your leaves in autumn is actually bad for local wildlife. I'll take any excuse not to spend hours corralling dead plant parts any day.
My father seemed to have a sparkling glint in his eye as he handed me the rake and pointed at our lawn growing up. All my life I figured raking leaves was something that had to be done but, like Santa Clause and civil online debate, I have now learned it is all a lie.
The National Wildlife Federation says that we should all just let the leaves sit where they fall. The little critters that share your property apparently need that leafy real estate to thrive.
This is great news for people who hate chores and love their local wildlife. Now we can all just watch the leaves fall and know that they are working hard to support our local ecosystem.
Here's why you shouldn't rake and throw away leaves:
Fallen Leaves are a Mini Ecosystem
The National Wildlife Federation claims that a leaf layer that is "several inches" deep is natural and a crucial mini ecosystem. The leaves are needed for salamanders, chipmunks, box turtles, toads, shrews, earthworms and many insects species to find food and other habitat.
Babies are Sleeping Under There
There are a lot of butterfly and moth species that spend their winter as pupae in leaf litter. Your rake will essentially destroy their nice little snowy crib that they can sleep comfortably in. These little guys are an important food source for birds and are also pretty great-looking in spring.
Leaves Fertilize the Soil
Leaves form a natural mulch that suppress weeds and fertilize the soil as they break down, according to the National Wildlife Federation. If you do have to rake them up they can turn into effective compost for you or your community. Learn more at the National Wildlife Federation website.