New Hampshire News Connection
October 2, 2023
Leave free or die: More NH homes put down the rake
New Hampshire yards will soon be covered in fallen leaves, but a new survey finds a growing number of people are willing to leave them lie to improve biodiversity.
The National Wildlife Federation found most people know that leaf layers provide a home to moths and insects, which birds need to survive - yet continue to bag them up and send them to a landfill.
NWF Naturalist David Mizejewski said there's a growing trend nationwide towards more natural lawns as wildlife populations decline.
"If we want to have beautiful songbirds and see butterflies flying around," said Mizejewski, "we just absolutely can not continue on this trajectory of monoculture lawns, pesticide ridden yards."
Mizejewski said making even small changes like leaving some of the leaves is a great way to help the environment right at home.
It's also great for the garden. Leaves are a rich source of mulch, which helps choke out weeds, hold moisture in the ground and protect soil from erosion.
Sean O'Brien - program manager of home horticulture with the University of New Hampshire Extension Center - said he often fields calls from people asking what to do with all the leaves.
He advises them to spend less on commercial lawn and garden products and take advantage of the free resource in their own backyard.
"You can run them over with a lawn mower," said O'Brien. "That kind of helps break them up a little bit, and they will actually add organic matter to your lawn and your soil - so they can be a big benefit in that way."
O'Brien said too many leaves will smother a lawn and that just a few inches of cover is best for both wildlife in the grass and garden.