Leave a few leaves this fall as a natural gardening supplement / Public Information Service
HARRISBURG, Pa .– While it might seem natural to rake leaves in your garden this fall, those leaves could play a more natural role in your garden or lawn.
It is not necessary to remove all the leaves from the yard, said David Mizejewski, naturalist for the National Wildlife Federation, although he noted that just letting them all pile up can choke the grass. By not raking and bagging all the leaves to be sent to the landfill, he said, you are doing the planet a favor in many ways.
“When organic material like leaves is landfilled,” he said, “they are buried and decompose anaerobically without oxygen, producing methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change “.
Not bagging the leaves also reduces the use of gasoline-powered tools such as leaf mowers and blowers, Mizejewski said. He encouraged people to consider reducing the size of their lawns, which can be destroyed by dense layers of leaves, and adding more beds, which benefit from rotting leaf matter.
The leaf layer is also a habitat for a number of animal species, including chipmunks, beneficial insects and spiders. Mizejewski said that 94% of moths spend part of their life cycle in the leaf layer, many during the winter months as pupae. When they emerge, they lay eggs, and moth caterpillars are an important food source for many backyard birds.
“So you start to see how it all ties together,” he said. “If you get rid of all these leaves, you are wiping out this habitat for all these animals and the source of food for the birds in the spring.”
For people looking to add more flower beds, Mizejewski said using dead leaves could be a way to save money, as they are a natural alternative to buying mulch and fertilizer. .
“Slowly but surely you can sort of convert your typical garden into something a little more natural and, honestly, maybe a little more lively and beautiful,” he said. “And that’s kind of the heart of what we talk about at the National Wildlife Federation, through our Garden for Wildlife movement.”
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