Growing up, my family spent a few years in Vermont, and each autumn, kids looked forward to raking huge piles of leaves, jumping into them, and raking them into various patterns like the Starship Enterprise! At the time, we didn’t give any thought to how the leaves would benefit the gardens and wildlife but our parents did. Mountains of leaves were raked onto garden beds or shrub borders where they decomposed during the winter, providing mulch as well as fertilizer. Leaves also provide winter homes for all sorts of bugs, beetles, caterpillars, butterflies, moths and the like. Birds benefit from the leaves because they find seeds and bugs hidden underneath them. Leaves also provide valuable mulch helping to protect roots and plants from freezing, thawing and re-freezing again. Leaves help to conserve moisture or to keep excess moisture from collecting around the crowns of plants which could lead to root or crown rot and loss of the plant. Leaves that collect on a sidewalk or mat down on a lawn can be raked or chopped as mulch and spread around garden beds or shrub borders to add nutrients to the soil and provide winter homes for all sorts of little critters. So – in short – please try to Leave the Leaves whenever possible!
FROM YOUR EDITOR – October 2019, by Mary Sinker