Leaves and ferns at base of tree

Fall Leaves: Love Them and Leave Them!

If you are one of the many people that thinks the fall leaves are beautiful, but hate raking or blowing them to the curb, we have some advice for you…leave them!  Fallen leaves are nature’s mulch and adding them to your garden bed provides many benefits.  So, Leave the Leaves!

Benefits of Leaves

Many insects overwinter in the fallen leaves, including ladybugs and fireflies.  These insects, as well as other critters that hide in leaves, are very important to a healthy property.  They provide food for birds, pollination for plants, and aid in keeping soils healthy.  Fallen leaves are so important to the environment, the Xerxes Society, the National Wildlife Federation and other groups have initiated campaigns to encourage homeowners to Leave the Leaves.

Caterpillar in fallen leaves
Leave the leaves for wildlife

In addition to providing habitat for birds and insects, soils themselves benefit from fallen leaves.  As these leaves break down, they provide organic material for the soil food web, improve soil structure, retain moisture, and protect it from compaction and erosion.

Mushrooms on fallen branch among fall leaves
Leave the leaves for soil health

Reduce Time & Expense on Leaf Maintenance

Our suggested course of management involves leaving the leaves wherever possible on your property. Some areas, like walkways and driveways may require further management. Here we recommend pushing leaves into beds. These beds now have a layer of natural mulch which may not need to be supplemented in spring.

Properties with many trees, and many leaves, may even be able to eliminate the need for spring mulching by using fallen leaves as mulch.

What about the lawn?

Lawn is one area that benefits from leaf removal.  We recommend mowing leaves into the turf as long as they break down with one or two passes with the mower.  If the volume is too much to mow, rake them and move them into the nearest bed.  This is easiest when leaves are dry, so keep an eye on the weather, and try to schedule this before it rains.

Benefits to Human Health by Leaving the Leaves

Low impact property management, which includes leaving the leaves, provides many benefits to human health.  Reduced fossil fuel use and reduced noise from backpack blowers benefit property owners, neighbors, and landscape workers alike. At GreenWeaver, we’ve switched to electric mowers and blowers to reduce our carbon footprint when leaf management is necessary.

The vibrant, healthy environment created with proper land use also provides other, immeasurable benefits. From playing in the leaves, to watching birds scratch for insects in winter, it is difficult to quantify these benefits. For more information on human health in healthy landscapes, ask us about Landscapes for Life.

GreenWeaver offers leaf management to our gardening clients as well as property owners looking for a one-time fall cleanup.  For assistance with leaf management or other environmentally friendly landscape management techniques, contact us!