What are we to do with all these leaves? And how can we support their vital work? I reached out to the Fairfax office of VA Tech’s Cooperative Extension Service and the agent pointed out several informative sources on using the gift of leaves to benefit the environment for all.
- The Xerces Society (www.xerces.org ) “Leave the Leaves” campaign tells us that: “One of the most valuable things you can do to support pollinators and other invertebrates is to provide them with the winter cover they need.”
- The National Wildlife Federation endorses the value of keeping leaves in our landscapes as well, extoling leaves as natural mulch, fertilizer and weed suppressant. (https://www.nwf.org search:leaves).
- The Virginia Dept. of Wildlife Resources (https://dwr.virginia.gov search: leaves) says that leaves are important for frogs, salamanders, box turtles, butterflies and insect eating birds.
These various agencies and organizations, public and private, agree on the same message: Leave the Leaves!
As for those expanses of grass lawns that are ubiquitous in our suburban neighborhoods, mowing with a mulching blade and allowing the leaf litter to fall into the lower canopy of the grass is the healthiest recommendation for the lawn and for the creatures that live here. And as we contemplate sharing our yards with their first inhabitants, consider scaling down the lawn size and increasing the areas where more native plants, insects, birds, bees and others can thrive.
Are we ready to give up the blowing and bagging and hauling? Shall we agree to re-use and recycle leaves for their intended purpose? Raking is great exercise! Shredded leaves are excellent mulch! Un-shredded leaves provide mulch, moisture and protection benefits. Let’s make 2021 the year we Leave the Leaves!
(*Everyone equals all that grow, breathe and exist in creation.)