3 min read
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I write this as I watch the gardener for the common areas of where I live blast the narrow flower beds with a petrol leaf blower to get the leaves up in the air for his colleague to come and sweep them up and take them away.

Afterwards, the flower beds look exactly the same, except that many of the daffodils are now missing their heads and some of the more delicate plants are looking rather put out.

I'm fascinated, and devastated, by two things: how utterly broken our relationship with the natural world is, and our obsession with creating unnecessary work (in this case, for a contractor, but in many cases for ourselves in our spare time).

If you clear leaves from your garden or have influence over the gardening approach for a space, here's a quick rundown of some reasons why you should save yourself the time (or the relevant organisation the money) required to clear leaves.

1. Leaves are important to whatever you're trying to achieve

Why do people want to clear leaves? To make the space look nice, usually - they're aiming for a flourishing, pretty garden. If you want healthy, aesthetically pleasing plants and trees, you should leave fallen leaves where they are.

Trees don't extract all of the nutrients from leaves before they drop them. This means that fallen leaves contain nutrients that are vital for plant growth.

More to the point, trees expect and rely on those nutrients. The leaves - much like fallen branches - should (if we only let them) be reabsorbed into the soil that feeds the roots of the plant that dropped them.

Gardeners pay a lot of money for leaf mulch because it discourages weeds and insulates plants as well as providing nutrients. Stripping this away from your soil is just madness.

Fallen leaves are beautiful during all of their stages - burning orange and warm red in autumn, deep brown in winter, and rich black soil by summer.

Hayley Kinsey Autumn Woodland

2. They disappear

There's no need to "tidy" leaves. Nobody is up to their neck in leaves. Thanks to our wonderful detritivores fallen leaves will disappear by late spring. Like magic.

3. You're blasting away life

When you use a leaf blower, you blast away invertebrates that live in the fallen leaves, in the soil and on the plants. Damaging the ecosystem of the garden in this way isn't conducive to maintaining healthy plants or to contributing positively to our declining biodiversity.

Even if you rake up leaves manually, you're disturbing and harming the animals who live there.


Galls on fallen leaves contain overwintering insects

4. You're being very annoying

If you're using a leaf blower everyone in the surrounding buildings hates you and has probably fantasised about causing you some kind of harm.

They're outrageously noisy. Let people enjoy the leaves in peace.

5. It costs time and money

If you left leaves where they fell, as nature intended, imagine what you could do with the time you'd have spent blowing or raking them, or with the money you'd have spent.

Consider this: what've the leaves ever done to you? Direct your energy elsewhere. Perhaps focus on exploring ways to exercise compassion towards the natural processes taking place around you.

Hayley Kinsey Fallen Oak Leaf

Clearing leaves from paths can be useful, particularly if it's to provide accessibility and increase safety. But lets leave them on lawns and in flower beds.

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