Scientists: Leave your leaves this fall - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Scientists: Leave your leaves this fall

The National Wildlife Federation is urging people to leave the leaves where they fall. The National Wildlife Federation is urging people to leave the leaves where they fall.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

This time of year people around the Heartland are likely carrying away tarps full of leaves, however, some experts are urging people to leave the leaves where they fall.

The National Wildlife Federation says on its website, "A leaf layer several inches deep is a natural thing in any area where trees naturally grow. The leaf layer is its own mini ecosystem."

Master gardener Paul Schnare says dead leaves can make up the habitats for critters like butterflies and chipmunks.

"This provides them a place to lay eggs, provides them a place to actually feed on old leaves, it provides them a place to live with some shelter during the winter," Schnare said.

Leaves can also provide necessary nutrients for soil.

"Microorganisms in the soil that provides them a food source if you will," Schnare said.

However, Schnare says to make sure the grass underneath isn't completely covered.

"If the leaves are so thick, the soil and plants underneath the leaves can't see the any light during the winter, that's not good," Schnare said. "But let's say if it's on a lawn area, if you can use a mulching mower and cut them up to really small pieces that will actually filter down into the soil and that's a good thing."

Schnare says people can also compost them because they can serve as a mulch for gardens and even fertilizer.

The Cape Girardeau public works department says using dead leaves as mulch or compost is the most environmentally friendly option.

So for all of you that might get rid of them, remember this:

"They're something that we really need to use and we have a tendency to just rake them up and throw them away."

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