Just in time for fall clean-up, Xerces Society has sent around their paper entitled “Leave the Leaves!” In essence, they say “leaving the leaves where they fall will create valuable winter cover for pollinators and other invertebrates.” Additionally, they describe the leaves as being “free mulch” for around ornamental trees, shrubs and perennials, and as nutrition for the grass and the soil in which it grows.
Xerces recommends not shredding, but allowing the leaves to lie where they lay. In areas where for safety reasons it is necessary to remove the leaves, create a leaf pile in a corner of your yard and plan to shred them in the late spring after the pollinators and other insects have left their winter homes.
In the distant past we have shredded our leaves and left the shreds lie where they lay. However, during the more current past, we have attempted to be more insect-friendly by shredding only the heaviest covered areas. (That would be under the non-native Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) trees which line our driveway on one side and were there when we moved here. Because Norway Maple leaves are so big and dense, they typically smother out everything under them, if they’re left to lie where they lay.)
So put down your rakes, let that noisy leaf blower or vacuum be, shut off your mower and instead relax with a cup of hot tea and a good book and enjoy our beautiful fall!
See also Autumnal Equinox.
Thanks Maryann Whitman for bringing this article to my attention.