Help the environment, forget raking

( file photo by Jason Viau)

If you are tempted to put off raking leaves, the Nature Conservancy of Canada is right behind you.

The conservation group is encouraging people to leave the rake in the shed, and the leaves on the ground.

It said the small act of nature conservation could boost biodiversity in your backyard by providing insects and other wildlife sustenance they need to survive the winter months.

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

It is not just leaves that can provide the natural habitat for insects, and small wildlife, plant stalks and dead branches provide cover too.

© Can Stock Photo / yanc

© Can Stock Photo / yanc

“Migratory and resident birds can also benefit from your garden during the winter. Fruits and seeds left on flowers and shrubs are a crucial food source that sustains songbirds through the winter, including goldfinches, jays and chickadees,” Kraus said.

Leaving the leaves alone is right for your soil too. As leaves break down, they provide a natural mulch. While a thick pile of leaves can hurt the growth of grass and other plants, a light covering can improve their health.

Another good reason why you might want to leave the leaves, it turns your backyard into a carbon sink.

“While it’s great for cities to provide collection programs to compost leaves, the most energy-efficient solution is to allow nature to do its thing and for leaves to naturally breakdown in your yard,” added Kraus.

Last year, the City of Toronto collected over 92,000 tonnes of yard waste, a missed opportunity to pull carbon from the atmosphere.