We've sung the praises of native plants—at our annual festival and here in our blog. Now, it's time to focus on the leaves of our native trees.
It's easy enough to enjoy leaf buds in the spring, the shade leaves provide in the summer and their color in the fall. Then, once they've fallen to the ground at our homes, most of us were taught to see them as a chore. Something to be raked (or blown), bagged and hauled away to the landfill. But here's the eco-truth: Leaves are not litter.
They're habitat. Butterflies and bumble bees, moths and millipedes and so many more insects count on the protection of fallen leaves to make it through the winter. And then there's the birds, chipmunks, squirrels, turtles and amphibians who rely on those insects for food.
Leave all the leaves that fall on your native plant garden—and your plants and the critters that live around and on and under them will thank you. Leaving a thin layer of leaves on your lawn won't kill it (if you must have a lawn at all—but that's another story), and you can compost the rest.
The Xerces Society "Leave the Leaves" campaign has more info and suggestions.
Round Hill AT: Join us in bringing together local friends and family to get outside. Let’s discover our amazing backyards — from national treasures like the Appalachian Trail to new local and regional parks.