Fall leaves aren’t just pretty. They form their own “mini-ecosystem.”
Here’s a thought: Skip the whole raking leaves thing this fall.
Heck, stop raking leaves forever.
No, you’re not dreaming. And no, I’m not an enabler (when it comes to raking leaves, at least).
There are actual, legitimate, vital reasons (beyond simply preferring to spend a Sunday on the couch) why you can let the leaves pile up outside without feeling a single ounce of guilt.
The National Wildlife Federation is asking you (yes, you!) to put the rake down for the sake of Mother Earth.
In a post published to the organization’s blog, the NWF outlines three important reasons why raking leaves is actually harmful for the environment and the creatures that live in your ‘hood. (Side note: The blog post was actually published in 2014, but — as further proof that humans detest raking leaves — has spread across the Internet like wildfire again in recent days.)
Here are three reasons your rake should stay put in the shed.
1. Your raking affects many critters that consider the leaves home.
Fallen leaves are vital for several adorable species — like chipmunks, box turtles, and shrews — and other not-as-adorable-but-equally-important species — like earthworms and various insects.
“The leaf layer is its own mini-ecosystem,” the NWF says. “Many wildlife species live in or rely on the leaf layer to find food and other habitat.”
Yep, raking leaves can destroy the seasonal housing accommodations that these species need to survive. Don’t do it.
2. Fallen leaves are exactly what your garden needs.
Dead leaves are the gift that keeps on giving for your garden. They act as an all-natural,weed-fighting mulch — all while fertilizing the soil as they decompose.
So do your garden good and give your raking a rest.
3. Raking your leaves means fewer beautiful butterflies. And that means less food for birds.
Fallen leaves are a great spot for butterflies and moths to chill during the colder months as pupae(basically, an insect’s very lazy, teenage-ish years). Not only will raking up your leaves kill these creatures, but it affects the food supply for birds that are trying to feed their babies come spring.
Bottom line? Put. The rake. Down.
Getting rid of your fallen leaves harms critters, hinders your green thumb talents, and takes up far too many autumn afternoons when you could be doing literally anything else.
Go enjoy your leaves just as they are! (And thank me later.)