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Kennebunk News & Events

Posted on: October 6, 2022

"Leave the Leaves" A message from the Conservation Commission

Leave the leaves

The Conservation Commission wants you to know about the benefit of leaving your leaves on the ground rather than bagging them.

This fall, ditch the leaf blower, put aside your rakes and leave the leaves on the ground.

Why leave the leaves? 

  • Leaves form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and fertilizes the soil as they break down, reducing the need for pesticides and fertilizers. 
  • Removing leaves eliminates vital wildlife habitat. Critters ranging from turtles and toads to birds, mammals and invertebrates rely on leaf litter for food, shelter and nesting material. Many moth and butterfly caterpillars overwinter in fallen leaves before emerging in spring. 
  • Leaves and other yard debris in plastic bags account for more than 13 percent of the nation’s solid waste—a whopping 33 million tons a year. Without enough oxygen to decompose, this organic matter releases the greenhouse gas methane. 

Here are some alternatives to bagging your leaves:

  • Let leaves stay where they fall. They won't hurt your lawn if you chop them with a mulching mower. Concerned about ticks? Mulched leaves are bad habitat for them.
  • Rake leaves off the lawn to use as mulch in garden beds. For finer-textured mulch, shred them first. 
  • Let leaf piles decompose. The resulting leaf mold can be used as a soil amendment to improve structure and water retention. Keep the leaf piles away from areas in your yard you use often. 
  • Make compost. 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. 
  • Still too many leaves? Share them with neighbors, friends, schools and others. 

The key to a healthy lawn is healthy soil and good mowing, watering and fertilizing practices. Healthy soil contains high organic content and is teeming with biological life. Healthy soil supports the development of healthy grass that is naturally resistant to weeds and pests. In a healthy, fertile and well-maintained lawn, diseases and pest problems are rare. Leaving leaves on your lawn is a great way to start.

 

 


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