Here's a 'Wild' Reason You Shouldn't Rake Your Leaves This Fall

Moths and butterflies need the leaves!

liz west / Flickr Creative Commons

One of the best things you can do for your lawn is to let fallen leaves stay put.

Have you ever been that person — you know — the one who never rakes come autumn and has a lawn covered in dead leaves while your neighbors stare angrily from their tidy landscaped properties?

Or perhaps you’re that person – you know — the one that wakes up in the morning and surveys the yard for even a single fallen leaf, then removes it by throwing it over the neighbor’s fence because it must have fallen from one of their trees?

Regardless of where you fall on the fall cleaning spectrum, the National Wildlife Foundation suggests the answer to raking is to not do it at all.

Taking a cue from the forest, the site advises that an inches-deep “leaf layer” tends to occur anywhere that trees grow naturally. The layer provides an ecosystem that offers sustenance and shelter to animals of many sorts — so if you have a property large enough to support wild trees, this could be beneficial. Moths and butterflies especially need the leaves, as it’s where many species pupate over the winter – and some birds count on finding those cocoons for food, so removing leaves could easily strip your grounds of the potential for quaint fluttering and tweeting down the road.

And sure, your lawn may look healthy once cleared, but the NWF piece points out that fallen leaves form a mulch that fertilizes the soil and suppresses weeds. On that front, it is suggested that one can clean a yard while still providing plants with nutritional benefits by composting all the dead stuff you rake away, rather than throwing it in the trash.

In the end, leaving the leaves serves as a natural boost for your lawn, and if you’re that person – you know – the one who passive-aggressively loves watching neighbors steam because you’ve never, ever raked, you can now claim total victory because, heck, you’re just embracing nature’s bounty.

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