As homeowners, raking leaves might be the most hated task. Unlike shoveling snow or mowing, raking leaves feels like a Sisyphean task that just.won't.end.

But -- there may be good news! The Natural Wildlife Federation (NWF) actually recommends that homeowners ditch the rakes.

Here's why:

Dead leaves make a great wildlife habitat
Butterflies and songbirds depend on leaf litter, says the NWF. "Over winter months, a lot of butterflies and moths as pupa or caterpillar are in the leaf litter, and when you rake it up you are removing the whole population of butterflies you would otherwise see in your yard," says NWF Naturalist David Mizejewski. This has a domino effect: without the insects in the leaf litter, you also risk driving away birds that might have come to your yard looking for food to feed their offspring in the spring.

Leaving your leaves saves money!
For gardeners, turning leaves into solid waste is wasteful. “Fallen leaves offer a double benefit,” Mizejewski says. “Leaves form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and fertilizes the soil as it breaks down. So when you rake all the leaves away, you are removing that natural fertilizer from your garden and lawns. Why would you then turn around and spend money to buy mulch? If you feel like you have to clean up your yard, Mizejewski advises homeowners use their leaves like they would mulch, and move them to a garden bed or area that is more aesthetically pleasing.

It's the "greener" (or browner?) option
Simple fact: leaves and yard waste take up a lot of space in landfills. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, leaves and other yard debris account for more than 13 percent of the nation’s solid waste—a whopping 33 million tons a year. So, letting your leaves decompose isn’t just a time-saver for you, but it's also environmentally friendly, explains Mizejewski.

So this fall, put your leaves to work for your yard -- and save time, money and the environment!

Sources: USA Today, Here's why you should avoid raking your leaves | National Wildlife Federation, Why You Should Leave the Leaves.
Posted 10:00 AM

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