Leaves – Just Leave Them Alone
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Leaves are falling everywhere now. What should you do with them?
The best thing you can do with your leaves, is “leave them alone” – pun intended. Many caterpillars of moths and butterflies overwinter in leaf litter. If you chop the leaves up with a lawn mower you are killing a lot of them. If you put them out for the city to collect, then they get carried away and are composted, again killing many of those caterpillars. So consider just raking those leaves into your ornamental beds or vegetable garden without chopping them up. You will help the beneficial insect population and see more butterflies and moths in your garden next spring. More butterflies and moths, also means food for birds to feed their babies. It takes over 6000 caterpillars for most birds to raise one clutch of young. So if you don’t have caterpillars, you will not have nesting birds in your garden. Leaf mulch is ideal for adding organic matter to the soil, helping to control weeds, and conserve moisture.
Alternatively, if you have only a few leaves, you can mow over them and leave the small pieces on the lawn. The small pieces will quickly break down adding organic matter and a small amount of nutrients to the soil.
In the City of Monroe you can rake your leaves to the edge of your property for pickup by the City. Do Not rake the leaves into the street, as the leaves can clog stormdrains and carry nutrients to our streams causing harmful algae blooms.
If you don’t have any leaves of your own, take a ride around and look for leaves that other folks may have bagged and placed at their curb. The saying “One man’s trash, is another man’s treasure” is perfect in this situation. I am one of those people, who will pull over and load up those bags of ‘treasure’ before they get taken away by the city! Take advantage of the benefits of keeping the leaves in your own garden and support the small critters while adding great organic matter to your soil.