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Is raking your leaves helping or hurting the environment? We dive into the subject.
FALL SAFETY

Some experts say you shouldn't rake leaves. Here's why.


Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Sunday, August 12, 2018, 6:57 AM - The next time you get the urge to rake the leaves off your lawn -- walk away. That's the advice coming from some environmental experts. Studies indicate the act of raking clogs up landfills and can eliminates wildlife habitat.

"According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, leaves and other yard debris account for more than 13 percent of the nation’s solid waste — a whopping 33 million [tonnes] a year," the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) says in a blog post.

Once in a landfill, leaves break down to release methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Most fall foliage is trucked off to dumps in plastic bags, which takes years to break down and adds to the litter. The NWF says the practice of raking leaves can disrupt natural habitats as well, since insects and amphibians look to leaf litter to provide food, shelter and nesting material.

LEAVING LEAVES BE MAY RESULT IN A HEALTHIER LAWN

Leaving leaves on your lawn won't harm it, as long as it's shredded. On the other hand, a thick layer of in-tact leaves left to decompose all winter can result in high levels of mold come spring.

The easiest way to shred leaves is to wait until they dry and go over them with a lawn mower. Research out of Michigan State suggests it's perfectly safe to leave these small pieces on your yard all winter.

“Fallen leaves offer a double benefit,” NWF Naturalist David Mizejewski adds in the blog post. “Leaves form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and fertilizes the soil as it breaks down. Why spend money on mulch and fertilizer when you can make your own?”

BUT I HAVE TOO MANY LEAVES ON MY LAWN!

If you've shredded and stored as many leaves as possible and still have an abundance of them, try:

  • Combining leaves with grass clippings and food waste to make compost.
  • Donating the leaves to a local garden, which may use them to make mulch or compost.
  • Sweeping leaves into garden beds.

Source: NWF

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