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  • Susan Russell

Leave the Leaves!

Updated: Mar 6

By Susan Russell:

As a child, I loved raking up a big pile of leaves and jumping into them- or better still, making leaf forts with my siblings and friends. After those many years of youthful autumn bliss, well… let’s just say leaf raking lost its thrill.

To my delight I’ve discovered there are multiple great reasons to “leave the leaves”.

In other words, think of every single leaf as a little vitamin pill. They are the ultimate free fertilizer minus the toxicity of chemical fertilizers. Leaves contain carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nature, the ultimate recycler, converts these vital nutrients back to the soil when the fallen leaves decay.

Leaf decomposition matter improves soil health. Decaying leaves also provide habitat for beneficial bugs that are crucial to a healthy ecosystem. However, too much of a good thing, is not a good thing. Matted leaves left to decay will also smother and kill your grass.

So, the best way to harvest the value of nature’s free fertilizer is to mow over thin layers of leaves- thus mulching them into small enough particles so they will feed your grass over the winter months without killing it.

Does your yard have a compost bin? You can collect those mower-mulched leaves into your mower bag and empty them into your compost. This provides excellent fuel for breaking down your food scraps in a balanced manner to created compost for your gardens the following spring.

We use this same bagged-mulch technique and distribute it on all of our flower beds and around our shrubs and trees. Just as nature intended, these leaves give our yard’s varied plant life a boost, while providing an alternative to expensive wood chip mulch. The leaf mulch not only helps to feed the plants, it also protects against moisture loss and weed growth.

The worst thing to do with your autumn leaves is to bag them in plastic bags. Not only is this a waste of a great resource, but bagged leaves end up in landfills where the oxygen-depleted environment turns them into potent methane gas machines. Methane contributes to climate warming more powerfully than carbon, the more commonly know culprit.

So this autumn, instead of mowing your grass, consider mowing your leaves! Save some money with nature’s free fertilizer and mulch- and save your back! Let nature do her thing. She knows what she’s doing and she does it best.

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