Reconsider the rake: Nature Conservancy asks Canadians to keep leaves on their lawn

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is asking us to reconsider raking this fall, and instead leaving the leaves on the ground.

The leaves will act as a natural fertilizer

The Nature Conservancy of Canada says urban lawns are becoming more important for nature and Canadians should reconsider raking up their leaves this fall. (Elissa Carpenter/CBC)

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is asking us to reconsider raking this fall, and instead leave the leaves on the ground.

"You can leave a layer or two on your lawn. It acts as free fertilizer for your lawn … those break down on your property just as they do in a forest, so basically it enriches your soil because it provides nutrients for your lawn," said Andrew Holland of the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Some Calgarians say they enjoy raking leaves but understand why it's OK to leave some on the ground.

Lisa Wilson says her teen sons rake up about half of the leaves in their yard and leave the rest where they land.

"We generally do leave a layer or two on the ground just because it protects the lawn and the grass doesn't get so dry," said Wilson

The Nature Conservancy would like to see more Canadians following in Wilson's footsteps.

"Urban lawns are becoming more important for nature," Holland said.

"By leaving a layer or two on the lawn, that provides insulation for insects and pollinators, butterflies and moths, and that's important because that's a food source for birds."

However, Holland says he understands some people live in condominiums or other complexes with strict landscaping rules.

As well, others may have neighbours with immaculate yards who won't appreciate the wind blowing leaves their way, or they themselves prefer a pristine lawn.

In that case, Holland says instead of bagging up leaves, consider placing them in flower beds, vegetable gardens or around trees and shrubs.

Holland says putting leaves around tree roots will protect them from frost damage during the freeze-thaw cycle, which happens more often here than in other parts of the country thanks to Calgary's famous Chinooks.


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