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, https://xerces.org/blog/leave-the-leaves; USDA, https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2022/10/17/fall-leave-leaves; and National Wildlife Federation, https://www.nwf.org/Magazines/National-Wildlife/2015/OctNov/Gardening/Leave-the-Leaves.