Conservation group encourages people to leave their leaves on the ground

Fall is here and so is that dreaded chore — or is it?

One of the most beautiful aspects of fall, the changing colour of leaves, comes with an onerous task: raking them all up.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), however, has some green advice for people wishing to avoid back-breaking yard work: leave the rake in the shed and the leaves on the ground.

The not-for-profit land conservation group says leaving fallen leaves in your yard is a small act of nature conservation that can support backyard biodiversity in many ways.

While migratory birds and some butterflies travel to warmer destinations, many native insects, including pollinators, and other backyard wildlife hibernate through the winter — and can use a little neighbourly help.

Dan Kraus, NCC’s senior conservation biologist, says leaves can provide important habitat for many species to hibernate underneath.

“Backyard animals, such as toads, frogs and many pollinators, once lived in forests and have adapted to hibernate under leaves,” says Kraus.

“The leaves provide an insulating blanket that can help protect these animals from very cold temperatures and temperature fluctuations during the winter.”

Another benefit of not raking your leaves is soil improvement.

Kraus points out that as leaves break down, they also provide a natural mulch, which helps enrich the soil. Thick piles of leaves can impact the growth of grass and other plants, but a light covering can improve the health of our gardens and lawns.

As the leaves break down, some of their carbon also gets stored in the soil, allowing your backyard to become a carbon sink.

“While it’s great for cities to provide collection programs to compost leaves, the most energy-efficient solution is to allow nature to do its thing and for the leaves to naturally break down in your yard,” says Kraus.

In 2018 alone, the City of Toronto collected over 92,000 tonnes of yard waste, including leaves, branches and Christmas trees.

And it’s not just leaves that are important for backyard wildlife during the winter.

“Plant stalks and dead branches also provide habitat for many species of insects,” says Kraus. “By cleaning up our yards and gardens entirely, we may be removing important wintering habitats for native wildlife in our communities.

“Migratory and resident birds can also benefit from your garden during the winter. Fruits and seeds left on flowers and shrubs are a crucial food source that sustains many songbirds during the winter, including goldfinches, jays and chickadees. Providing winter habitats for our native birds and insects is just as important as providing food and shelter during the spring and summer.”

-Submitted

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

County of Paintearth releases summary of initial round of community engagement sessions

‘Various aspects of the existing Land-Use Bylaw and Municipal Development Plan were reviewed during the sessions’

County of Paintearth council hosts virtual delegation from RMA during June 2nd meeting

The RMA also usually hosts two conferences for municipalities in a given year

Alberta reports just seven new COVID-19 cases

‘Today’s numbers mark an occasion to be celebrated’

Still no confirmed active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer, central zone

There are 15 new confirmed cases were in Alberta, the province said Thursday

Town council moves to re-open community playgrounds

Highlights from the Town council meeting of May 25th

PODCAST: Black Lives Matter in central Alberta

Community organizers come on the show to discuss central Albertan anti-racist movement

Montreal man believes rough arrest caught on video was racially motivated

Montreal man believes rough arrest caught on video was racially motivated

N.B. police shooting of Indigenous woman leads to questions on ‘wellness checks’

N.B. police shooting of Indigenous woman leads to questions on ‘wellness checks’

Minister says reckoning on police violence against Indigenous people needed

Minister says reckoning on police violence against Indigenous people needed

Nunavut to bring in civilian police review after arrest video: minister

Nunavut to bring in civilian police review after arrest video: minister

Trudeau takes a knee at anti-racism protest on Parliament Hill

Trudeau takes a knee at anti-racism protest on Parliament Hill

Liberal MP Marwan Tabbara faces assault, break and enter, harassment charges

Liberal MP Marwan Tabbara faces assault, break and enter, harassment charges

Black Canadians say racism here is just as harmful as in the United States

Black Canadians say racism here is just as harmful as in the United States

Implementation of Divorce Act reforms delayed eight months by pandemic

Implementation of Divorce Act reforms delayed eight months by pandemic

Most Read