Raking leaves is a chore you may want to skip this fall. There are several reasons why you shouldn’t rake your leaves and should leave them instead of bagging them.
As the leaves change color and fall we start to see bags of leaves lining the streets. Raking leaves isn’t a fun chore but one many believe is necessary but it may not be. Not only that but raking leaves may be harmful to wildlife and the environment.
Scientists are urging people to skip raking their leaves. It’s one chore you can remove from your list this year.
The Benefits of Not Raking Leaves
Creating Wildlife Habits
Many wildlife species including box turtles, toads, earthworms, and chipmunks live in or rely on the leaf layer for food. Many butterfly and moth species overwinter in the leaf layer. When you rack the leaves you are likely getting rid of some beneficial insects as well. These insects are also important food sources for birds in the spring.
Increased Soil Health
Leaves create a natural mulch that can help suppress weeds and also fertilize the soil. This can save you money on mulch and fertilizer and also is safer than many of the commercially available options.
Many people rake and bag their leaves. This can waste a lot of trash bags and means a lot of plastic ending up in our landfills. According to the EPA yard trimmings and food accounted for 28.2 percent of household waste.
Leaf blowers save a lot of time and are becoming more common but they also often rely on fossil fuels and create a lot of pollution.
What to do Instead
Sometimes you do need to remove leaves from your yard. If you are in a high-risk fire area, a homeowners association, or maybe you just really don’t like having leaves in your yard. Instead of just bagging your leaves and letting them go to the landfill try one of these options.
Composting your leaves is a great way to get the benefits from the leaves without the mess. Home composting is easy and can reduce your waste. Check out this Composting Guide: Using Leaves for Composting.
Additional Resource: How to Start Composting in 30 Seconds for Less Than $3
Use for Mulch
Leaves are a free and effective mulch. Put the leaves in a big trash can and use a weedeater to shred them. Then apply the shredded leaves to flower beds, trees and shrubs, vegetable gardens or simply mow the leaves and leave them on the yard.
Donate Your Leaves
Check with local community gardens or schools to see if they could use some leaf mulch. It’s a great way to keep the leaves out of the landfill, clean your yard, and help your community all at once.
Use all that time you’ve saved not raking leaves to enjoy fall activities around Oklahoma.