Leave the Leaves! Richer Soil and Habitat for Pollinators

As the cooler weather moves in and the leaves begin to change color, it's a great time to get outdoors and do yard work. You may want to trim the bushes, tend to your garden, and pull weeds before the change of season. One chore you can forego is raking the leaves. Fallen leaves actually help to feed the soil for a healthier yard, so skip the rake and leave the leaves!

At some point in your life, you were probably told that fallen leaves would kill your grass, so you'd rake and bag the leaves to tidy your yard and protect it. According to experts, this is a myth. By raking the leaves, you are actually removing important nutrients from the yard and replacing them with store-bought fertilizers. While you don't want to smother parts of your lawn covered in thick piles all winter, you can leave the leaves on the ground as mulch to help the soil.

As an additional layer of organic material, the fallen leaves provide food, shelter, and bedding to a variety of wildlife. The leaves also provide overwintering protection to a number of insects. Over time, the decomposed leaves turn into nutrients that feed next year's grass and a number of microbes in the soil. All plant life in your yard depends on this healthy soil.

Mowing over the leaves to make smaller pieces is recommended. Most mowers can do the job, but a mulching mower or mulching attachment might make the job easier. If you want a cleaner look in your yard, you can use the leaves as mulch in your garden beds, in your compost pile, and around trees instead. If reprising fallen leaves in your own yard is not for you, consider bagging them and dropping them at a local collection center, where they can be turned into mulch and compost for others.

Healthier soil means better habitat. Keep an eye on biodiversity and native plants. The more you have in your space, the more inviting it is to monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Reduce the use of fertilizers and other chemicals by using the natual resources like leaves around you. Learn more about our market based conservation strategy and ways that you can help monarchs today.