Removing them sucks and blows. Why do it?
We don’t rake leaves anymore. And we sure as heck don’t remove them with a gas- or electric-powered blower, either.
We are the bane of our neighbors’ autumn existences. And we’re O.K. with that.
None of them has said anything to us about it yet, but it’s a pretty good bet what they’re thinking – “Lazy, good-fer-nothin’, non-leaf-clearin’, fallin’-behind-the-Joneses losers!” Or something along those lines.
When they walk or drive by our leaf-covered yard with frowny faces, we just smile and wave.
Certainly doing less work and using time for more important or enjoyable things are wonderful side benefits, but those aren’t the reasons we forego sweat and toil on gorgeous, warm, sunny days that are all-too-fleeting to remove leaves that have fallen from our black walnut, birch or ash trees.
Here’s why we don’t do it:
- Leaves provide natural organic matter and nutrients for your soil, lawn, trees, shrubs and other plants, especially if you cut them into smaller bits. Think mulch and compost, but absolutely free. Be sure to chop them up before winter so piled-up leaves don’t kill portions of the lawn. And please use an electric mower powered with renewable energy or renewable energy offsets to do the job.
- Fallen leaves suppress weed growth.
- Leaves provide habitat and a food source for everything from earthworms to caterpillars to chipmunks, some of which become food for birds the following spring.
- Leaves buried in landfills break down and form methane, a potent, climate-change-accelerating greenhouse gas.
If you absolutely must keep up with the Joneses, rake away. But whatever you do, please do not use a gas- or electric-powered blower to clear them. Apart from having a lawn in the first place (guilty), blowing leaves is one of the most illogical things humans can do on the planet, both figuratively and literally.
In addition to the excellent reasons to leave leaves rather than remove them, blowers burn more fossil fuels – gasoline or electricity generated in coal-fired plants – which contributes to global warming and climate change. Which, in turn, is already causing portions of our own ecosystem – Earth – to be uninhabitable.
“Big deal,” one might think. “A single blower isn’t gonna hurt anything much.” We could argue that point, but the real point is that with the other hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, of homeowners, business owners, parks and apartment building managers all using blowers, too, it hurts a lot.
So kick back, watch the football game, take the dogs for a walk with someone special, cross something else off your bucket list, whatever…
Just leave the leaves.
National Wildlife Federation – “What to do With Fallen Leaves”
Good News Network – “Don’t Rake Those Leaves: Good for Your Yard, and Good For the Planet”
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