Your Excuse to Be Lazy: Not Raking Your Leaves Is Good for Your Yard (and the Planet)
If you're planning on raking leaves this fall, reconsider. Experts say leaving them alone is much better for the planet—here's why.
As the temperatures cool down, we can finally bust out our pumpkin spice and cozy sweaters. But as pretty as those red, yellow, and orange leaves are, fall also means it's time to rake piles of leaves from your yard—or at least it used to.
Experts say not raking your leaves is good for your yard and the planet. But how? It turns out leaving them alone can fertilize your yard, provide shelter for critters, and even reduce local emissions.
Why to Avoid Raking Leaves
According to David Mizejewski, a naturalist at the National Wildlife Federation, falling leaves fertilize your yard as they decompose into nutrients. "They slowly break down and compost right there at the base of the of the tree of the shrub, right above its root zone, where they return nutrients that the plant can then recycle and reuse next spring," he told USA Today.
Leaves also provide a home to critters, from earthworms and little pillbugs to salamanders and chipmunks. There's an entire ecosystem living in there! The bugs living in these leaves are also a vital food source for birds.
But what about climate change? A lot of the time, people bag up their leaves and toss them out. While that might seem harmless, they wind up releasing methane—a greenhouse gas—into the atmosphere.
"At this time of year, a huge volume of leaves go sit in landfills and produce all of this terrible greenhouse gas," Mizejewski says. "The more we can keep that organic material out of the landfill, the better."
What If You Don't Want to Let Leaves Build Up?
If you're not a fan of letting leaves collect in your yard, that's totally understandable. Luckily, there are ways to remove leaves that don't harm the planet.
Instead of bagging up your leaves or blowing them away with leaf blower, which can clog local drains and waterways, simply pile them up in one corner of your yard and let them decompose there. You can also use leaves as part of your compost.
No matter how you go about it, Mizejewsk says leaving leaves in your yard is a simple step we can take to better the planet. So the next time you think about raking or bagging them up, see what happens when you let nature do its thing.
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