Several agencies cite benefits for keeping fallen leaves unraked on lawns
Claims made that leaf cover acts as herbicide, fertilizer, animal habitat and erosion control method
November 6, 2023 By Turf & Rec
Leaving fallen leaves to remain on lawns helps to reduce greenhouse gases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture claims.
The Environmental Protection Agency in the United States is also in favour of leaving fallen leaves alone, suggesting that raked leaves contributed to 35.4 million tons of waste in 2018. Yard trimmings, including leaves, account for about 12.1 per cent of municipal solid waste. Although most of that is composted or mulched, much of yard trimmings find their way into landfills.
A naturalist from the National Wildlife Federation says leaves provide a natural mulch that helps to suppress weeds while fertilizing the soil.
Officials from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection add that leaves absorb rain, releasing moisture into soil and plants as they decompose. The agency adds this also reduces runoff pollution in streams and rivers.
New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation claims leaf cover reduces soil erosion and helps regulate soil temperatures.
The USDA also notes leaf cover provides wildlife habitat and provides a food sources for animals.
According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s horticulture department, there is an exception for leaf raking. Leaves from trees infected with foliar fungal diseases should be raked and disposed of to prevent the infection of emerging leaves the following season.
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