Leave Your Leaves

Love your Yard? Then Leave your Leaves!

It’s decision time for homeowners of northeast Georgia. ‘Tis the season for the beautiful, native deciduous trees that characterize our region to drop their leaves on our yards as they prepare for the winter cold and the arrival of spring. In the meantime, what do we do with all those leaves? Four benefits of leaving your fall leaves where they fall, advice from Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville, Ga.

Most of us get out our rakes and blowers and then put in several weeks of collecting, bagging, burning or removing the mass. It’s a lot of work, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you rather be enjoying the beautiful fall days doing something else?

We at Elachee would like to suggest an alternate strategy. Why not imitate nature? Leave your leaves where they fall. 

Here are four reasons why this laissez-faire approach would be beneficial to you and your yard.

  1. Leaves are rich in a variety of minerals that make your yard a happier place. This fallen fertilizer contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese and more. These necessary nutrients are slowly released from the leaves into the soil over time where they are consumed by plants and invertebrate animals.
  2. A carpet of leaves protects your soil from being washed away during the multi-day rainstorms that seem to befall us each winter. A natural mulch level helps retain valuable topsoil that takes years to create, but that can disappear overnight when the skies open.
  3. A variety of animals depend on leaves for their development and survival. These include small reptiles, amphibians and insects who over-winter in leaf pack. Leaves also serve as incubators for a variety of beetle, butterfly and other insect larvae. Birds such as brown thrashers, towhees, sparrows and wrens forage through leaves looking for seeds, berries and insects.
  4. If you must move your leaves, go no further than your flower beds or your compost pile. Fallen leaves are the calcium-rich ‘browns’ that combine with nitrogen-rich ‘greens’ to produce rich compost. Those of you with oak trees know that their leaves take some time to decompose. This makes them particularly valuable as garden and tree mulch.

Enjoy your fall and value your leaves! The plants and animals around you will appreciate it.  Call us at (770) 535-1976 or email us about this or to pose other nature-related questions.

Leaf-Gazing at Elachee

Early- to mid-November 2020 is peak season to see the stunning autumn color palette on display in the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve.

The Chicopee Woods hiking trails are open daily from 7 a.m. to sunset. Elachee Nature Science Center is open for admission Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through November 21, 2020. PLAN YOUR VISIT TO ELACHEE