The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) wants you to skip raking your leaves this fall.
The not-for-profit land conservation group is telling property owners to leave the fallen leaves in their yards to assist with the hibernation of native insects and pollinators and other backyard wildlife.
“Backyard animals such as toads, frogs and many pollinators once lived in forests and have adapted to hibernate under leaves,” said Dan Kraus, NCC’s senior conservation biologist in a release. “The leaves provide an insulating blanket that can help protect these animals from very cold temperatures and temperature fluctuations during the winter.”
Kraus added that skipping the chore of raking your leaves may also improve your yard’s soil since the leaves will break down and provide a natural, enriching mulch. He noted that a thick pile of leaves can impact the growth of grass and other plants, but a light covering can improve the health of your lawn and garden.
“While it’s great for cities to provide collection programs to compost leaves, the most energy-efficient solution is to allow nature to do its thing and for the leaves to naturally break down in your yard,” said Kraus.
The NCC states that by cleaning up your yard entirely in the fall and winter, removing dead branches and plant stalks, you may be “removing important wintering habitats for native wildlife in our communities.”
“Migratory and resident birds can also benefit from your garden during the winter. Fruits and seeds left on flowers and shrubs are a crucial food source that sustains many songbirds during the winter, including goldfinches, jays and chickadees,” said Kraus. “Providing winter habitats for our native birds and insects is just as important as providing food and shelter during the spring and summer.”
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