Here's why you should avoid raking your leaves

The National Wildlife Federation says there are benefits to letting leaves decompose naturally. Leaves are a natural mulch and fertilizer. Instead of buying mulch, just use the leaves in your yard. Butterflies and songbirds depend on the leaves in your yard. Leaves and yard waste take up a lot of room in landfills, so leaving the leaves where they fall is environmentally friendly. So, even though they might look unsightly, it's good to leave the leaves in your yard.

Put down the rake and back away from the leaves.

Dry, dead leaves might be unsightly to your neighbors, but they are a great wildlife habitat for a slew of creatures, according to David Mizejewski, a naturalist at the National Wildlife Federation.

In the past, the NWF has reminded people there are benefits to letting leaves decompose naturally.

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Here are a few reasons why it makes sense to put your rake away:

Leaving your leaves could save you money

"Leaves are nature's natural mulch and fertilizer," Mizejewski said. "When you rake all the leaves away, you are removing that natural benefit to your garden and lawns — then people turn around and spend money to buy mulch."

If you feel like you have to clean up your yard, Mizejewski said people can use their leaves like they would mulch, and move them to a garden bed or area that is more aesthetically pleasing.

Wildlife depends on your leaves

Butterflies and songbirds alike depend on leaf litter, according to Mizejewski.

"Over winter months, a lot of butterflies and moths as pupa or caterpillar are in the leaf litter, and when you rake it up you are removing the whole population of butterflies you would otherwise see in your yard," he said.

Without the insects in the leaf litter, you also risk driving away birds that might have come to your yard looking for food to feed their offspring int he spring.

Leaves and yard waste take up a lot of space in landfills

Food scraps and yard waste make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, according to the EPA. So, letting your leaves decompose isn't just a time-saver for you, but it's also environmentally friendly, Mizejewski.

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