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Here’s Why Your Should NEVER Rake Your Leaves

Don’t Rake Your Leaves This Year! (Here’s Why)

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In preparation for winter, many homeowners go through the grueling task of raking and bagging leaves. Maybe it isn’t a big deal for those with very small yards in the city, but it can be quite the workout in large yards or around rural homes.

Well, as it turns out, raking your leaves can lead to a more attractive yard but may not be the best idea. Why? Keeping leaves in your yard not only helps the creatures around the tree, but also boosts the health of your lawn, too. Read on to find out how to do it.

Why Leaves Fall

Deciduous trees lose their leaves in autumn as a survival method; no leaves means the tree can conserve water and energy to get it through the winter. As most aspects of nature, a tree losing its leaves doesn’t just help the tree but also assists the environment around it.

The many animals and insects around the tree are looking for shelter to get them through the upcoming winter. In a very wonderful way, the critters are able to use these leaves as a home until spring arrives. As with most things, this system works perfectly well in nature. But it’s a different story when humans begin to disturb this process by raking their yards.

The Problem with Raking

Raking leaves and bagging them destroys the homes these many creatures need. All homeowners should do their best to work with nature and support their local ecosystem. Not only is it part of being a steward of the land, but it also improves the lawn. Homesteaders will benefit from healthier beneficial insect and animal populations come spring, which will improve their gardens, woodlots, ponds, etc.

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This no-rake method has been used for decades by various homeowners but lately has made its way into the mainstream, including a recent USA Today article.

Examples of some critters that call leaf litter home in winter include:

  • Box turtles
  • Salamanders and other amphibians
  • Snakes
  • Spiders and other arachnids
  • Snails and slugs
  • Millipedes and centipedes
  • Beetles and other insects
  • Moth and butterfly pupae
  • Worms and other soil aerators
  • Soil-improving microorganisms
  • Important fungus and healthy bacteria
Don’t Rake Your Leaves This Year! (Here’s Why)

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For example, when caterpillars have a safe place to live you will have a much healthier butterfly population in spring and summer — which will in turn help your garden, fruit trees and general vegetation. Healthy insect populations that rely on leaf litter in winter will also feed birds and predatory insects.

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While animals benefit from the no-rake method, so does the ground. It will act as a natural fertilizer, improving your soil and also suppressing weeds. Not to mention, skipping raking completely saves a lot of time and reduces costs from bagging.

What to Do Instead of Raking

So if you don’t rake your leaves, what do you do? There are a few options. Some people don’t rake their leaves at all, or just wait until spring arrives before raking them away to a new location. Here are other options:

  • Rake up leaves and move to the outskirts of your lawn or just somewhere else on your property where it doesn’t bother you.
  • Rake up leaves and put them over your garden beds for protection.
  • Rake up leaves and leave them around the base of trees in your woodlot as mulch.
  • Mulch the leaves with your mower. Some homeowners use a mulch mower or a special mulch attachment, but neither are necessary. Most mowers will mulch leaves simply by driving over them.

This year, don’t think of fallen leaves as an annoyance, but rather an amazing way nature protects vulnerable critters in winter – and fertilizes your lawn.

Do you have any “leaf advice”? What do you do? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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  1. Dont you think if you racked up your leaves those bugs would just find other leaves to find shelter in??
    What a STUPID article

    • Thanks for the comment. You may have missed the article’s second big point: free mulch for your lawn.

    • Raked! The word is raked. It’s even in the “stupid” article.

    • L; Not a stupid article at all. This is exactly what we do in out little city in Wisconsin. There are a lot of little critters thriving around us and a joy to watch the Squirrel and bunnies. Compost away from the house to draw the bugs away from the house. Have a beer/wine and calm down. cheers

  2. GOD: St. Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there in the USA? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honeybees and flocks of songbirds.

    I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

    ST. FRANCIS: It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers weeds and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

    GOD: Grass? But it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It’s temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

    ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

    GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

    ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it, sometimes twice a week.

    GOD: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

    ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

    GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

    ST. FRANCIS: No, sir — just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

    GOD: Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

    ST. FRANCIS: Yes, sir.

    GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

    ST. FRANCIS: You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

    GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stoke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It’s a natural circle of life.

    ST. FRANCIS: You’d better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

    GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

    ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

    GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

    ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

    GOD: Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

    ST. CATHERINE: Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It’s a real stupid movie about …

    GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis

  3. Make sure you know what types of trees you have that are shedding leaves and what the effects of those leaves may have on surrounding plants before picking a method. For instance, I have 3 black walnut trees on my property. All parts of the black walnut tree have a compound called jugalone in them that inhibits growth of many different plants (including vegetables and fruit). Therefore, I should not mulch the leaves into the lawn and gardens, but could move them to a different location.

  4. Oak leaves are high in tannin, which is not good for the lawn or for use in mulch.

    • IF you don’t rake your leaves, Or leave them near certain trees, they can adversely effect the root system. PLUS, don’t forget, the ever present “Neighborhood Nazis” that WILL complain even in the small townships. Another is a safety issue. Fire spreading. I’m trying to get the burning of leaves curtailed IF not prohibited BUT right now, one person burns there’s and leaves it unattended, even for a second, and POOF, there goes your yard and perhaps your house and pets.

      Also, raking is GREAT exercise.Suggest that to your Neighborhood Nazis

      • Nobody rakes the leaves in the forest. I’ve never raked leaves, which include black walnut & oak, and the lawn & other plants have never shown signs of suffering from it.

        If you don’t rake your leaves but the neighbors do, then you’ll have the only clean lawn in the neighborhood: your leaves will blow onto their property, but they’ll have no leaves to blow onto yours, leaving yours clean and theirs leafy.

        Good article making use of ecology instead of TreeHugger fantasies.

  5. Wow! Raking leaves sure evokes alot of emotions. Who knew?

  6. I have never read about saving dead leaves in any means of living. I’m not a good saver for the entire dirt that causes all unwanted problems like rats, bugs, etc. If you can state that saving dirt is a main stream for unwanted creatures, then you have all the rights in the world to save dirt.
    Furthermore, I don’t need my automobile to have any problems when sitting on the corner of the hood. I’m not cutting up Nature!
    If Nature was healthy and plentiful, would it turn Alburn Red and fall from the Stems? All trees needs to be trimmed and kept in health.
    Another point of view for trimmings is due to weather conditions.

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