Don’t Rake Those Leaves: Good for Your Yard, and Good For the Planet

Can’t get motivated to rake those leaves off your lawn? Now you have the ultimate excuse to avoid that chore: you’d be saving the environment, as well as making your lawn more healthy.

The National Wildlife Federation says leaving leaves where they fall helps critters in your yard and contributes to a healthy ecosystem.

If you are mostly concerned about lawn health, the best thing to do is just run a mulching lawn mower right over the leaves. The smaller bits act as fertilizer. If you don’t like how that looks, attach a bagger to your mower and dump the leaf mulch on your garden beds. It looks amazing and will fertilize the beds.

Toads, turtles, and other animals eat the fallen leaves and birds use them to build nests. Caterpillars ride out the winter beneath the moist blankets to emerge as butterflies or moths in the spring.

Letting your leaves fall where they may also reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The EPA estimates 33 million tons are dumped into landfills every autumn, accounting for 13% of America’s solid waste.

Buried underground without oxygen to help them decompose naturally, leaves will turn into methane gas that slowly leaks into the air.

You can also keep leaves out of the landfill by composting them at home in a composter or pit.

Another benefit: if you avoid raking in the fall, you can avoid even more yard work in the spring, say some landscapers. That’s because leaves become a natural fertilizer when using a mulching mower to break them down—and those nutrients may cut down on pesky weeds.