Last weekend, our neighbors across the street spent at least 5 hours raking the leaves from their lawn. Their whole family was involved in the process. Granted, it was probably good exercise. Although for me, raking hurts my back – having to twist and pull at the same time. So maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t “good exercise” for the neighbors.
At any rate, the family bagged their leaves into 23 black garbage bags and lined them up along the edge of the street for the city to pick up. Because these neighbors didn’t use transparent bags, their leaves will not be chopped up by the city and recycled as mulch, but will instead go to the landfill.
Ken and I don’t like the idea of robbing our own trees of all the valuable nutrients stored in their leaves. The big oak trees around here have a hard time, between the frequent droughts and the city’s persistent infestation of fall cankerworms. So we stopped raking a couple of years ago.
Instead of raking, we decided to try mowing the leaves and then leaving them on the lawn. We did it a few times last fall and winter and it worked great. At first, I thought they would make a brown carpet that would persist and smother the grasses. I was wrong. The leaves virtually disappear after they’re mowed. They just sink into the grass and eventually into the soil, where they decompose and feed the tree roots.
Why doesn’t everyone who has a lawn chop-up the leaves and let them lie? Or better yet, just let them lie unmowed, and convert to a native woodland? Where did we get the idea that leaves must be raked or blown, or that we need to have pristine lawns to begin with? It seems to be a meaningless tradition that we need to re-think, given the rate at which we’re destroying wildlife habitat by development. How much better if we can all do something to leave our yards a little more natural. See the National Wildlife Federation or my blog posts below for ideas about making your yard more wildlife-friendly.
My previous “Green Tip” posts, and previous posts about lawns:
Key words:: lawns nutrient recycling falling leaves raking leaves wildlife habitat