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Learning to leave–and love–every leaf

For most years of my adult life, I cleaned up every stray leaf in my yard. Then I learned that’s not such a great idea. Leaves build soil and provide protection for a host of beneficial insects. After leaving the leaves three years ago, we had hundreds of Western Star Flowers, a native wildflower with a small star-shaped flower hovering over its green leaves. We always had some, but skipping the aggressive clean-up led to a much larger show.

Leaves are amazing! They:

  • Support pollinators and other invertebrates by providing winter cover
  • Create natural mulch
  • Feed microorganisms in your soil
  • Provide food, shelter and nesting material for wildlife

This year, all the leaves from the driveways and pathways were relocated to garden beds. You can shred your leaves using a lawn mower, but I don’t.

Learn more from the Xerces Society,; USDA,; and National Wildlife Federation,

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash