Photo: How to leave the leaves

Those brown, dead leaves are the planet's butterfly nursery.

If I know you, you can't stop helping pollinators — planting a butterfly garden, getting your yard off grass, signing the Monarch Manifesto and more. Well, you won't believe what I want you to do (or not do) now...

DO NOT rake your leaves! (Because butterflies begin in leaves, as larvae.)

Those brown, dead leaves are the planet's butterfly nursery. They're home to butterfly larvae, microbes and worms. And leaf litter is where many species of butterflies and moths overwinter as pupae. Animals like toads, shrews and salamanders benefit from leaf litter to hide and hunt, too.

This fall, let your rake collect only dust.

Can't leave all of your leaves where they fall? Here are a few other ideas:

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Mulch leaves in your planter beds

Does your homeowner's association have something against leaves? Rake leaves off the lawn and into your planter beds.

Mulch leaves on your lawn

Use your mower to mulch leaves on the lawn and improve your lawn health by suppressing weeds and fertilizing the soil.

Collect browns to compost

Composting 101 tells us to balance "greens" with "browns." Store leaves in a bin and add them to your backyard composter throughout the winter months.

Craft with leaves

Have children collect their favourite leaves in your yard and throughout the neighbourhood and try your hand at nature weaving. Make a natural loom or craftiments.

Note: DO rake leaves out of sewers and drainage pathways.

Have you been able to break your leaf-raking habit?

Sincerely, Lindsay Coulter
A fellow Queen of Green

September 29, 2015

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Mar 09, 2017
6:33 AM

I went to all the trouble of filling out the forms to have my garden ‘certified’ and at the end of the last form there is no way to submit the information — only a cancel button, no submit button. Boo.

Mar 08, 2017
9:19 PM

Unfortunately there are no replies about what to do about last year’s leaves once Spring arrives and we want to plant seeds and put in new plants etc. I tend to eventually gently rake the leaves out of my gardens and put them onto my compost pile, but I often wonder if I’m damaging chrysalises. Someone told me that chrysalises would be more likely to be attached to twigs etc

Apr 23, 2016
7:51 AM

Yes, when can I mulch/rake them now that it’s spring?

Nov 04, 2015
2:20 PM

I would post a comment/question, but someone else has already asked it: when DO we rake them up? Would be nice to see some answers. I wait in hope… :-)

Oct 15, 2015
12:35 PM

I’d love to see an article bringing awareness to people as to the wonderful work of Dew worms in the forest. In Lumby I’ve watched them sweep the leaves into piles and then those piles disappear with barely anyone realizing the wonder below their feet.

Oct 15, 2015
9:43 AM

Interesting reading material I did not know :)

Oct 13, 2015
8:53 AM

But WHEN can we rake them up? I imagine too soon in the spring and we’d be harming anything in them… . I like this idea but a touch more info is needed.

Oct 13, 2015
7:47 AM

I will never rake leaves again alail. I started this last year… I know all the critters in my yard thank me

Oct 13, 2015
7:28 AM

Thank you for sharing the post about leaving the leaves. I will do so. A friend asked me whether the same applies to pine needles, and searching the internet I seem to find different answers. Can you shine some light on that? Do pine needles have a positive effect on the lawn/butterfly larvae? thanks in advance!

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