This fall, Canadians are encouraged to leave the fallen leaves in their backyard and preserve the habitat of native wildlife as temperatures decrease.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada says residents can use environmentalism and conservation as an excuse to not rake their yards this year.
The NCC says leaves can provide important habitat for many species.
“Backyard animals, such as toads, frogs and many pollinators, once lived in forests and have adapted to hibernate under leaves,” Nova Scotia stewardship co-ordinator Doug van Hemessen said in a news release.
“The leaves provide an insulating blanket that can help protect these animals from the cold and temperature fluctuations during the winter.”
According to the release, the NCC “has some green advice for people wishing to avoid back-breaking yard work: leave the rake in the shed and the leaves on the ground.”
In addition to helping out fellow species, van Hemessen says fallen leaves provide a natural mulch that can improve soil.
A light covering of leaves can “improve the health of our gardens and lawns,” as soil can store some of the carbon released by breaking down leaves.
“The most energy-efficient solution is to allow nature to do its thing and for the leaves to naturally break down in your yard,” van Hemessen said in the release.
The same goes for plant stalks and dead branches.
“By cleaning up our yards and gardens entirely, we may be removing important wintering habitats for native wildlife in our communities.”
Those who prefer having a clean and tidy lawn can participate in this conservationism by keeping some of the leaves and tucking them under shrubs, bushes, flower beds and gardens. The leaves can “help prevent the freeze/thaw cycle in the roots through the winter months.”
The NCC also said migratory and resident birds can benefit from sustained gardens during the winter.
“Fruits and seeds left on flowers and shrubs are a crucial food source that sustains many songbirds during the winter.”
The release said 80 per cent of Canadians now live in cities or towns. In Nova Scotia, nearly half the population lives in the Halifax Regional Municipality alone.
With such growing urbanism, backyard biodiversity is becoming increasingly important, the NCC said.
“One of the biggest opportunities to improve the health of nature in urban areas is through the collective action we can all take in our yards,” van Hemessen said in the release.
“As Canadians, we have some of the planet’s last areas of wilderness, but for many of us and our children, finding that connection to nature starts at home.”