I'm a gardening expert – here's why raking leaves is a waste of time
I’m a gardening expert – here’s why raking leaves is a waste of time
- Experts advise why you should ‘leave the leaves’ as they are this autumn
- Not raking fallen leaves has benefits to both your garden and the environment
With autumn in full swing, piles of golden leaves are beginning to fall at our feet – while they might look pretty, they can be annoying for gardeners.
If they’re covering your lawn, you may be tempted to rake the thick layers of leaves and put them in the bin.
However, according to experts this is actually a waste of time and bad for the environment – the better thing to do is actually to leave them be.
Choosing not to rake fallen leaves has benefits to not only yourself and the planet, but also to wildlife.
The University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture & Natural Resources advises that piles of leaves provide a habitat for creatures including insects, slugs, spiders and possibly even toads and small mammals, NPR reports.
With autumn in full swing, piles of golden leaves are beginning to fall at our feet – while they might look pretty, they can be annoying for gardeners
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You could be disrupting an entire eco-system simply by trying to make your garden look neater.
As well as providing homes for animals, the leaves are actually helping your grass as they are full of nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen.
Professor and extension specialist in landscape horticulture at the University of Delaware, Susan Barton, told NPR ‘Those nutrients are being returned to the soil.
But probably even more important than that, it’s the organic matter.
‘It’s the fact that you’ve got this tissue that then eventually decomposes and improves the soil health’.
Recently, nature experts are encouraging the approach of ‘leaving leaves’ as they provide free mulch and return organic materials to the soil.
The National Wildlife Federation Blog has even designated October as ‘Leave the Leaves’ month.
They say that raking up the leaves and bagging them for trash ’causes pollution and further disconnects our cities, towns and neighborhoods from the local ecosystem. It also hurts wildlife.’
You could be disrupting an entire eco-system simply by trying to make your garden look neater
David Mizejewski, an expert with the organisation, advised that a leaf layer of three to five inches deep is usually a good amount for most garden beds.
He wrote ‘Don’t pile them on top of your plants but instead put them around the plants to cover any open soil, just like any other kind of mulch.
‘They’ll suppress weeds, preserve soil moisture and naturally compost and return nutrients directly to the root zone of your plants as they break down.’
Adding that ‘Some 30 million tons of yard waste – much of it fallen leaves – get sent to landfills each year.’
‘When buried they break down in anaerobic conditions (meaning without oxygen) which produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change.’
He explained that this is something that doesn’t happen when leaves break down as mulch in a garden bed or compost pile, so it’s a lot better for the planet.
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