To rake or not to rake

October 30, 2015   ·   0 Comments

Fall is in full swing and with it the leaves are coming down.
At my home, I am surrounded by big trees, and I love every one of them. They are homes for many of my wildlife friends, providing shelter, and shade on a hot day. They also filter the air we breathe, and some give us Mother Nature’s gold in the spring – sap. Yes, we tap a few of our trees and make our own maple syrup. Oh so good.
As it concerns the leaves – so much more goes on there that the eye can’t see. Tiny little lives. Butterflies lay their eggs on leaves, their larva beginning the cycle of life there. So all those dead leaves lying on your ground driving you nuts is actually a nursery, if you will, of the butterfly species and much more – pretty incredible, right?
Oh and don’t forget the worms that mulch those dead leaves; toads seek cover and food; wood frogs actually hibernate under leaves on the forest floor of your backyard. That’s right, their bodies freeze and they lie dormant until spring. They then thaw out and the new life cycle starts all over again for them.
Other wildlife depends on what lives in this leaf litter to also survive. Birds coming back from migration are hungry and need fueling. Feeding those hungry nestlings is a full time job, so why not make it easier for them and leave your leaf litter with many species that over winter in them. Hatching out come spring and becoming important food sources for many other species.
There actually is a benefit here for your lawn as well. From the natural mulch that leaf litter becomes to fertilizing your soil. If you must rake however here are some ideas for you: compost leaves, mulch them, put them in your garden; your gardens will benefit from this as they will protect those plants and bulbs from winter elements. And although old fashion raking seems to have been taken over by leaf blowers, use your rake again instead. Leaf blowers are noisy and they rely on fossil fuels which pollute the air we breathe which also contributes to climate change. They can also be harmful to your hearing if you don’t wear protection – and think of those calories being burned at the same time with a rake.
Hearing that fresh fall breeze and chirping of the fall birds and possibly saving the life of a frog or toad in your lawn you would not notice with a blower in your hands. That is quite the force on those little guys. Your yard is home to so many tiny creatures that one never even thinks about. Just let’s get her done!
For a naturally healthy lawn, leave some mulched leaves behind for winter, like I mentioned it will help promote healthy soil and even help with the compression of weeds, leaving you with a naturally healthy lawn all over.
Compost your leaves and add that rich soil to your garden when ready. Do crafts with your kids or even for yourself. Be creative and collect fall things. Kids can make their own gifties for those special folks in their lives. What fun!
Of course you do need to keep your culverts clean of leaves or you could be in trouble come spring thaw. Away from sewers and also a good idea to keep those paths clear so you don’t slip on wet leaves. Oh and those eves troughs to so you don’t get ice buildup during the winter months causing all sorts of home troubles.
I hope that I have changed at least some of your minds out there. I even bought myself a little old fashioned push mower this summer past. No pollution, better exercise. I can hear my feathered friends, and my toads and frogs and other little lives have a better chance of surviving. Give it a try, you will be helping many to survive. And your lawn and garden will thank you for not over-raking.

By Jennifer Howard



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