TORONTO — Do you hate raking your leaves in the fall? The good news: A conservation group says that leaving them alone may actually be better for your lawn and its ecosystem.

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Embracing your intrinsic laziness can help your lawn’s soil quality, says Andrew Holland, national media director for Canada’s Nature Conservancy (NCC). As fallen leaves break down, they turn into mulch, which can help keep your lawn healthy and suppress weeds.

“It’s essentially free fertilizer for your lawn,” he told Granthshala.ca on Friday over the phone.

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Having too many leaves can inhibit grass growth, so Holland recommends layering it in one or two layers. Alternatively, you can cut the leaves with a lawnmower to help break them up and prevent suffocating your lawn.

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A thin layer of leaves can also be beneficial to butterflies, moths, caterpillars and other insects that depend on the nutrients in your soil. Many of these insects, along with frogs and toads, hibernate during the winter inside the leaf litter, using the leaves as an insulating blanket.

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With habitat loss across Canada, on top of the fact that more than 80 percent of Canadians live in cities and towns, Holland says backyard biodiversity is now more important than ever.

Holland said, “Urban nature is becoming more and more important. And we don’t necessarily think of our backyards and our own lawns as being a nature reserve. But it might be, if we rethink how we use our lawns.” How do you see it?”

These insects are not only important pollinators, but they are also an important food source for birds, whose populations have declined. a 2019 Study found that over the past 50 years, North America lost 2.9 billion birds, primarily due to declining food sources and habitat loss.

“We think about feeding the birds at other times a year, but we don’t necessarily think about feeding them in the winter,” Holland said.

There are some situations where it may be necessary to rake the leaves. Leaves near storm drains should be cleaned, otherwise they can create a wet mess or even cause flooding. On sidewalks, unwashed leaves can pose a tripping hazard if it rains and they freeze in winter.

Also, Holland said, if you have a pine tree near your backyard, it’s a good idea to rake the needles, which are acidic and can damage the soil.

If you enjoy growing leaves or what looks like a clean lawn, Holland says the NCC isn’t telling people not to rake their leaves, but is merely offering an alternative.

“If people want to rake their leaves… that’s great. We’re not telling people not to do it. People like to rake leaves in some ways. It helps people get fresh air and exercise.” It’s fun.”

Many municipalities provide a roadside collection service to convert yard waste into compost. But if you live in a municipality that doesn’t have a yard waste program and still want to rake your leaves, Holland suggests placing them in your garden or under trees or shrubs.

“This could be beneficial in terms of preventing the freeze-thaw cycle from affecting the tree’s roots,” he said.