Something to keep in mind as you're watching your trees go bare from all the windy days we've had recently in southeastern Minnesota.

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I don't think you'll find many people who aren't impressed with all the beautiful fall foliage each and every year, however, I'm about to tell you why you need to put down the rake, and slowly walk away from the leaves.

Here's some good news: You don't need to gather another single leaf from your yard if you choose not to.

Dry, dead leaves may be an eye sore to you and your neighbors, but they're great wildlife habitat for a slew of creatures, because as this research suggests raking your lawn is BAD for the environment.

Here’s the details: According to David Mizejewski, a Naturalist at the National Wildlife Federation, he says “traditionally, leaf removal has entailed three steps: Rake leaves (or blast them with a blower) into piles, transfer the piles to bags and place the bags out to be hauled off to a landfill. Yet, increasingly, conservationists say these actions not only harm the environment but rob your garden of nutrients while destroying wildlife habitat”.

Approximately 33 million tons of leaves and other debris from yards end up in landfills each year. When they’re bagged up, they don’t get enough oxygen to decompose, which is a contributing factor to methane.

Food scraps and yard waste make up 20 to 30% 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!

For more wildlife-gardening tips, visit www.nwf.org/garden.