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.
Ken Sikora says
With my lawn mower I will circle the shaded areas and blow the remains (all grass clippings in the summer and leaves in the fall) within the drip line of the a shade tree every year. In the fall it does make for a nice fluffed up pillow of shredded leaves in each large shade garden where the mayapples, wild ginger, bloodroot, maiden-hair ferns, trout lillies, trilliums, Solomon’s seal, etc. all survive. In the spring I’ll run the discharge from the sump pumps into these shaded areas to breakdown the grass clippings and leaves, which creates additional humus soil. I believe it is still of benefit for the invertebrates and pollinators – and the wild flowers. So?
It always amazes me to see the people concerned about ‘climate change,’ drive all the way across town to drop off a pail of grass clippings or a bag of leaves at the Village’s recycling center.
Donna VanBuecken says
Hi! Ken — We blow our leaves into my woodland area as well. — Donna