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Leave Fallen Leaves Alone, NWF Advises

posted: 11/06/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Autumn leaves
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Lazy landscapers, rejoice! It's a good idea to leave your fallen leaves exactly where they are, the National Wildlife Federation says.

Although conventional wisdom might prompt you to clear fallen leaves in the name a clean and crisp lawn, plant litter can actually do a world of good for your soil and vegetation.

"Fallen leaves offer a double benefit," NWF Naturalist David Mizejewski explains in a blog post. "Leaves form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and fertilizes the soil as it breaks down. Why spend money on mulch and fertilizer when you can make your own?"

As leaves decompose, they spur the growth of a mold that can help improve the underlying soil's structure and water retention abilities. Mizejewski recommends employing a mulching mower to expedite the decomposition process.

If you do choose to clear away your leaves, be sure to dispose of them responsibly. The 33 million tons of yard waste that end up in landfills each year contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA. Instead of discarding leaves and other yard debris with curbside garbage, the NWF recommends composting.

"Combine fallen leaves ('brown material') with grass clippings and other 'green material' and keep moist and well mixed. You'll have nutrient-rich compost to add to your garden next spring," writes the organization's Laura Tangley.

Click here for more tips from the NWF.

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