Autumn Landscaping. Plant Something and Chill
On Leaving the Leaves
To explain why this is so beneficial, let’s start with another post from deeply knowledegable local expert Anthony Marinello of Dropseed Natives, “Leave the Leaves!”
This is rapidly becoming a very mainstream concept.
Here’s a piece from Homeserve.com, “Rake It or Leave It? Here’s Why You May Just Wanna Leave Your Leaves Where They Fall,” one from the USDA, and even one in Good Housekeeping.
Environmental groups have been saying this for years. Here’s the National Wildlife Federation on why.
And one from The Xerces Society: “Leave the leaves.”
BTW the Xerces Society is interesting. It’s really focused on saving invertebrates. Their work is deeply fundamental and yet applied at our level in the food chain, so it’s also really helpful! Their Facebook page is a wealth of basic, excellent advice.
…There are tips on winter cleanup, saving seeds, a beautiful sight of Monarch Butterflies migrating….
I learned about them from Long Island Native Plant Group on Facebook, a great community of incredibly knowledgeable and helpful folks who think about our local ecoscapes all year long
…but I digress…
…I was talking about leaving the leaves…
Well, Most of Them Anyway
The movement to leave the leaves is really important, but should be taken with a little common sense.
It also remains important to keep the driveway clear, as well as stone patios and pathways, assuming you wish to preserve them. The same goes for grass (though a thin layer of leaves may be mowed quite healthfully), which also likes to be aerated from time to time.
On my property, I’m dealing with invasive Norway Maples that I’m working to eradicate and replace with native trees as quickly as I can afford to do so. With them, I have found raking the leaves is fairly important as they seem particularly smother-y and slow to break down. As I am working to reduce their spread, I also want to be able to get their whirlybirds up in the spring!
As such, my approach isn’t so different from what these folks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have to say, or The Spruce, here.
So, I do continue to rake a bit….mindfully….
Consider Losing the Lawn
Of course, while lawn health is among the biggest reasons to still rake, folks such as those from Re-Wild Long Island (an incredible collaboration of Long Island experts) suggest you consider doing away with your lawn instead.
This powerful opinion piece in the New York Times suggests you’d best “Kill your lawn before it kills you.”
On the West Coast, this has become a serious affair. Alternatives such as Xeriscaping, which focuses on minimizing water use, have become very popular. There, many factors including severe ongoing drought are coming together to prove that fighting the ecosystem for the sake of grass isn’t worth the trouble.
Related practices are gaining popularity across the country as communities come to realize that tending their own yard is a great way to nurture a healthier environment.
I’m not quite ready to ditch my lawn myself. However, I am committed to neither watering nor fertilizing nor spraying it with chemicals, and to doing all I can to maximize the ecological value of my property.
Here’s a nice piece from Brooklyn Greenways on why native plants are so important.
I am deeply inspired by projects like these “Rewilding Long Island” examples featured on the Rewild Long Island website.
See these 12 Inspiring ideas for a lawn-free landscape from porch.com, and some more on Houzz.
Check them all out and then go, tread lightly into winter, and dream of the upcoming spring.
(BTW: You can find resources for that here … it’s never too early to start planning!)