Not rak­ing your leaves is good for the en­vi­ron­ment, group says

The Prince George Citizen - - At Home - Kevin BIS­SETT

FRED­ER­IC­TON — Good news for the lazy: Canada’s lead­ing con­ser­va­tion group is ask­ing peo­ple not to rake their lawn.

“It’s good news if you don’t like rak­ing the leaves be­cause leav­ing them on the ground is the en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly thing to do,” said An­drew Hol­land, a spokesman for the Na­ture Con­ser­vancy of Canada.

He said the leaves pro­vide a space for many small crea­tures to sur­vive the win­ter.

“They pro­vide habi­tat for but­ter­flies, moths and dif­fer­ent kinds of insects that can over­win­ter un­der the leaves. It’s also good for frogs and toads. The insects that over­win­ter pro­vide food for birds in the spring,” he said.

Dan Kraus, the NCC’s se­nior con­ser­va­tion bi­ol­o­gist, said peo­ple can also help mi­gra­tory and res­i­dent birds sur­vive win­ter by not clear­ing up their gar­dens.

“Fruits and seeds that re­main on flow­ers and shrubs are a cru­cial food source that sus­tains many song­birds, such as goldfinche­s, jays and chick­adees,” said Kraus.

“Over­win­ter­ing insects in our yards also pro­vide an im­por­tant food source for birds.

“Pro­vid­ing win­ter habi­tats for our na­tive birds and insects is just as im­por­tant as pro­vid­ing food and shel­ter dur­ing the spring and sum­mer.”

Hol­land said if you’re wor­ried about smoth­er­ing the lawn or hav­ing clogged gut­ters, the leaves can be tucked un­der bushes or in other ar­eas away from your house.

“These leaves pro­vide good mulch for scrubs and help pre­vent the freeze/thaw cy­cle in the roots through the win­ter,” he said.

Lawn care com­pany, Scott’s Canada, rec­om­mends us­ing a lawn mower to mulch leaves into tiny pieces on your lawn and ap­ply­ing a fall fer­til­izer that’s rich in ni­tro­gen.

“You want to re­duce your leaf clut­ter to dime-size pieces. You’ll know you’re done when about half an inch of grass can be seen through the mulched leaf layer. Once the leaf bits set­tle in, mi­crobes and worms get to work re­cy­cling them,” the web­site states.

For those who do like the look of a well­raked lawn, many cities across the coun­try col­lect and com­post leaves for use in gar­dens and flower beds.

In parts of Toronto, home­own­ers are even al­lowed to rake the leaves to the edge of the road­way on spe­cific dates, where spe­cial­ized equip­ment will come along and re­move them.

In Prince Ge­orge, leaves and yard waste can be dropped off free of charge at the Foothills Re­gional Land­fill, and the Quinn Street and Van­way trans­fer sta­tions – only com­postable bags will be ac­cepted.

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