What you can do right now

4. Love leaves & ban blowers

Photo by Stephan Van Dam

WHY BAN BLOWERS, ESPECIALLY IN WINTER?
Blowers, whether gas or electric, destroy animal, insect and pollinator habitat (see below) while posing public health dangers through excessive noise decibel levels and the concentration of particles they force into the air (particles that may contain pesticides, mouse droppings, etc).

Dagger moth caterpillar courtesy of National Wildlife Federation

To counteract the catastrophic collapse of our insect and pollinator species all communities should ban blowers at least from October to May when insects and animals that rely on this habitat for regeneration and survival have emerged.

Photo Shutterstock

“Fallen leaves offer physical protection for wildlife. The organic materials in fallen leaves provide food, shelter and nesting material”—Susan Brandt, Blooming Soils

Photo courtesy of National Wildlife Federation

WILDLIFE PROTECTION
Fallen leaves form a natural mulch.  They retain moisture, suppress weeds, fertilize soil and provide habitat for animals and insects.  Removing leaves eliminates wildlife habitat for box turtles, toads, birds, mammals, and insects who rely on leaf litter for hibernation and regeneration during winter months.  This includes some pollinators. According to Native Wildlife Federation naturalist, David Mizijewski, many moth and butterfly caterpillars overwinter in fallen leaves emerging in the spring.

NOTHING LEAVES YOUR PROPERTY
Scientific research conducted by New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station has shown a layer of leaves improves the water-holding capacity of soil reducing drought damage and improving the “tilth” of the soil, i.e how loose and crumbly it is. That makes gardens easier to dig, allows water to drain better and helps supply air and nutrients to root systems. As leaves break down into compost they help soil hold nutrients longer, reducing the effects of excess fertilization and providing food for beneficial soil micro-organisms.

Photo of Turtle Box by Peter Oxford

Raking or blowing leaves and removing them from your property accounts for more than 13% off the nation’s solid waste—33 million tons a year—according to the EPA. Without sufficient oxygen to decompose this organic matter releases greenhouse methane gas. Nothing should leave your property: no leaves, grass, plant or tree clippings.

Photo by Stephan Van Dam

For more information regarding the dangers of gas and electric blowers see: “Our Lawns Are Killing Us” by Gail Pellett on Medium.

HOW TO KEEP LEAVES ON YOUR PROPERTY

Create mulch: Rake into piles around trees.  Place leaves around bushes and trees over winter for protection against freezing temps and retaining moisture in soil as well as insect habitat. Leaves can be removed in spring, and composted. Together with branch and bush clippings make mounds for wildlife.

Fertilize your lawn with leaves:  Mow lawn with leaf cover until leaves have shredded.  They will then provide over winter nutrients for your lawn; both a mulch and compost effect.

Create compost with leaves:  Store leaves in a big bin or plastic bags, pour water over them and close bin or bag. Beautiful leaf mold or compost is created by spring.  Compost from leaves will improve soil structure and fertility.

Pine needles create mulch & compost:  Pine needles make great garden mulch or compost or simply rake into garden.

Beach, birch, hornbeam, sweet chestnut, magnolia & holly:  All contain high amounts of lignin (structural material in trees) which should be shredded before composting to speed their breakdown.

Leaves not to leave: Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac

EXCELLENT RESOURCES FOR TOXIN FREE LANDSCAPING PRACTICES

PRFCT EARTH PRJCT founded by Edwina von Gal in Springs, East Hampton, NY.  Promoting toxic-free lawns and landscapes for the health of people, their pets and the planet.

HOW TO BAN BLOWERS IN YOUR COMMUNITY
To find out how one community (Washington, DC) regulated these killing machines, see James Fallows, Get Off My Lawn, Atlantic, 2019

Photo Shutterstock