Let Fallen Leaves Lie

Not only do they provide vital shelter, leaves also suppress weeds and fertilize the soil as they decay. Leaves are a natural mulch! 

And by not raking, think of the time you’ll have to enjoy the gorgeous fall weather and colors and to watch all the wildlife that will visit your yard.

Living Lightly


Blowing leaves really does blow. 

Defenders’ member Dawn Eason recently wrote us with a question about a hummingbird nesting in her yard only to follow up with: “Unfortunately, my gardener scared her away with the noise of the leaf blower and she hasn’t returned.” 

Not only are leaf blowers noisy and irritating to neighbors and wildlife, they’re an environmental hazard with a two-stroke engine that fails to undergo complete combustion, which means they produce nearly 299 times the air pollution of a truck.

If you still insist on using a leaf blower, make it electric.


Wait until spring so wildlife can find leafy homes engineered by nature. If you can’t hold off because of HOA or property-management requirements, rake leaves into hideaways under shrubs and the like so nesting birds and other creatures can still make use of them.

If tucking them out of sight still isn’t an option, hopefully your city provides a seasonal pick-up service for composting—or compost them yourself. It won’t help wildlife survive winter, but it will keep the leaves out of landfills and incinerators.

Never rake them and bag them in plastic—a polluting product made from petroleum—and send them to a landfill. Yard waste unnecessarily takes up 13 percent of our landfill solid waste. 

—Heidi Ridgley

Photo credits: 
Houston toad by USFWS
Luna moth © Bill Bouton

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