Every year everyone who has got a garden faces the same dilemma: should I rake the leaves or not? The opinions differs a lot. While most gardeners carefully remove these natural symptoms of approaching winter, there are some arguments against it. Carefully analyze the area around your house, consider all arguments and decide whether it makes sense to take out the rakes from your garage this year.
Why do we remove leaves?
#1 Once they fall, leaves no longer look good. They become rubbish ruining the image of our lawns and flowerbeds.
#2 They pollute our ponds and absorb the oxygen that fish needs to breathe.
#3 Left on the ground, they deprive plants of sun, which is so important especially in the winter.
#4 They speed up yellowing and rotting of grass.
#5 Lying on sidewalks, paths and terraces they form a slippery layer, which poses some hazard for people walking there.
#6 The layer of leaves accumulated on branches of conifers works like an insulating blanket, limited the access to sunlight thus accelerating the process of yellowing of needles.
#7 Leaves infested with pests (especially those of chestnut and walnut trees) have to be removed as the pests can easily survive the winter under the colorful, warm duvet of leaves.
#8 Leaves make great compost, which is a natural fertilizer. To prevent the leaves from rotting, their layers have to be separated with layers of sand, twigs or bark.
#9 They are natural habitat of mice and voles.
#10 This a really good insulation material you can use to keep the plant boxes warm in the winter.
Why should we stop raking leaves?
#1 They reduce evaporation preventing the soil from going to dry.
#2 Decomposing they change into a natural fertilizer.
#3 They form a cover protecting shrubs and seeds against the frost. As a result, the soil gets warm much more quickly in the spring and many plants can develop earlier.
#4 They are natural habitat of some animals (for example hedgehogs). They form some small heaps of leaves where they survive the winter.
#5 Insects that use leaves to survive the winter in the spring become food for birds. This is a kind of winter pantry for robins, blackbirds, swifts and catbirds.
#6 Too intensive raking can harm the trees and make the soil become barren. They are some really important organic matter.
#7 The garden covered with colorful leaves looks beautiful
Rake the leaves or not?
There seems to be no clear answer here. Each of us has to make the decision themselves. Of course we don’t have to go to extremes. You need to take care of your garden on one hand while it goes without saying that trusting the nature too much can turn your garden into something rather unpleasant.