Travel & Leisure

Hate Raking? Now You Have an Out

Environmentalists are urging Canadians to stop raking their leaves


If you’ve been searching for a reason not to rake your leaves this fall, you’ll be pleased to hear that the Nature Conservancy of Canada is recommending that you leave a few layers of leaves in your yard before the first snow to preserve “backyard biodiversity.” Those leaves not only provide fertilizer when spring rolls around, but they also make it easier for animals to hibernate in the winter. Consider it an act of animal welfare.

“Backyard animals, such as toads, frogs, and many pollinators, once lived in forests and have adapted to hibernate under leaves,” Dan Kraus, a senior conservation biologist with the non-profit group, said in a statement. “The leaves provide an insulating blanket that can help protect these animals from very cold temperatures and temperature fluctuations during the winter.”

Kraus also said clearing your yard makes it difficult for migrating birds to find food to eat.

“Fruits and seeds left on flowers and shrubs are a crucial food source that sustains many songbirds during the winter, including goldfinches, jays and chickadees,” he said. “Providing winter habitats for our native birds and insects is just as important as providing food and shelter during the spring and summer.”

If you use your own compost to fertilize your garden in the spring, you can also sweep up the leaves from the fall to add to your garden later.

But don’t go overboard, experts say. More than a layer or two of leaves can make it harder for grass and other plants to grow.

Photo: iStock/schulzie.