Looking at a blanket of leaves over your backyard? The Nature Conservancy of Canada says there are a lot of good reasons to leave them there. Photo: Christopher Roden

Not looking forward to raking? Here’s why to leave the leaves

Nature Conservancy of Canada has good news for those who hate yard work

Every fall, people delight in the beautiful display of colour as trees go from green to stunning shades of red, yellow, and gold. However, the downside is that soon after comes the task of raking all those leaves.

Those looking to avoid – or at least delay – raking leaves can now cite the Nature Conservancy of Canada, which says we should let the leaves be.

Keeping a layer of leaves on the ground is a small act of conservation that can support backyard biodiversity in many ways, the not-for-profit land conservation group notes. Migratory birds and some butterflies head to warmer climes in the fall and winter, but many native insects (including pollinators) and other backyard wildlife, such as toads, hibernate through the winter, and can use some help from us.

“A couple of layers of leaves are good for pollinators, moths, and butterflies,” says spokesperson Andrew Holland. “It’s good for insects, which are an important food source for birds in the spring. …

“Having lots of species around is an indicator of the health of our neighbourhoods and communities.”

Leaves on the ground also helps improve the soil. As the leaves break down, they provide a natural mulch that enriches the soil. If you have too thick a layer of leaves, it can impact grass growth, but a light covering can improve the health of lawns and gardens.

“If you get a lot of leaves, put them under shrubs and trees away from the house, where they can protect the root systems of your grass and shrubs, and protect against the freeze-thaw cycle,” says Holland. “My mom is set in her ways and doesn’t like leaves, so we’ll blow them under shrubs, which is good for richness and helps stabilize the soil.”

He advises against leaving piles of leaves, but to just let them fall naturally, so as not to attract rats and mice.

The organization also encourages people not to clean up their gardens entirely, as plant stalks and dead branches provide important winter habitats for many creatures. Birds can also benefit from fruits and seeds left on trees, flowers, and shrubs, using them as a crucial food source to sustain them during winter.

Holland says that if you have a real Christmas tree, you can throw it in the backyard when the holidays are over.

“Birds can use it for warmth. That tree in the yard can be a warm habitat for some of those winter months. And some branches will break down and recycle back into your yard. Some people cut holes in the tree stump to accelerate the pace of decay as the tree breaks down.”

READ MORE: The many hats of a conservation officer

Holland admits that leaving the leaves might not work for all.

“I live on a corner lot with a storm drain out there, so I don’t want to have a bunch of leaves clog it up when there’s heavy rain and have water run up on neighbours’ properties. You have to exercise common sense. And clean up pine needles, because they’re very acidic and harmful for the soil.”

You may feel pressure from neighbours to have a pristine lawn, but he says leaving the leaves doesn’t mean never dealing with them. “By Mother’s Day, hopefully winter’s done, and you can pick up leaves for the spring yard cleanup.”



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘It’s been a great program’:New foreign worker requirements help Okanagan fruit industry

Biometric requirements began in late 2018, and will have long-term advantages for workers in Kelowna

Kelowna metropolitan area surges above 217,000 people: Report

Between 2018 and 2019, report said region had second highest population growth in BC

Kelowna RCMP issue 49 distracted driving, no seatbelt tickets in one afternoon

The enforcement action will continue throughout the week

Former Canadian Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin to visit Kelowna

Beverley McLachlin served as the 17th Chief Justice of Canada from 2000 to 2017

‘Share the love for your neighbourhood’: Kelowna looking for creative improvement ideas

A $1,500 grant towards a neighbourhood enhancement project is up for grabs

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

B.C. daredevil embraces ‘good times and bad ideas’

Spikes in the head, sword swallowing and a stapled body all in a day’s work

Apex Mountain hosting memorial run for Brayden Kuroda

Kuroda, a Penticton native and World Cup freestyle skier, passed away Monday night at the age of 19.

Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings take spotlight in Vernon

Outlaw Country to revive classics of the Man in Black in March

Okanagan business throws bone to B.C. Alzheimer Society

T-Bone’s Fresh Meal Markets raised $11,000 for the society in December 2019

Man accused in Salmon Arm 7-Eleven fire pleads not guilty to breach of bail

Supreme Court trial will decide arson charges while Provincial Court will look at breach charge

Via Rail lays off 1,000 employees temporarily as anti-pipeline blockades drag on

The Crown corporation has suspended passenger trains on its Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto

Johnny Cash takes centre stage in Okanagan

Outlaw Country to revive classics of the Man in Black in March

VIDEO: Knife-wielding man arrested after barricading himself in Lower Mainland Walmart

A man had barricaded himself in the freezer section of the fish area at a Walmart in Richmond

Most Read