These property owners really have the right idea. They rake the leaves off of the grass and leave these glorious Maple trees' leaves right under them in a big circle.

The owners could use a shredding mower to reduce the leaves into tiny pieces...but they don't bother. The leaves stay right here all winter.

There is no need for expensive mulch in spring. There is no need for expensive labor to spread mulch that comes from somewhere else.

The leaves represent the best of "local" food for the trees.

What do the leaves do for the trees?

  • Insulation from cold and ice protects the roots.
  • The pile of leaves "melts" down as beneficial microorganisms feed on the leaves. Those beneficial microorganisms eventually sink into the soil and help to release nutrients for the tree's roots to pick up.
  • And nutrients come from the leaves themselves as they decompose. The tree "feeds" itself with its own leaves. There is rarely need for expensive (chemical or other) fertilizers for mature trees like these.

You can't go wrong.

Why do landscapers and tree care professionals insist on bringing in foreign substances like mulch?

I have many friends who are tree care professionals, and I don't mean to insult them. Actually, my friends already do it right--already leave leaves.

I can only make a guess about other professional's habits and motives.

  • Perhaps it has become a habit to take away leaves and bring in mulch because "everybody does it" and they don't think about a better way for YOU and for the trees.
  • Perhaps they want to sell more mulch and charge you for the labor of taking AWAY the leaves and then bringing in and spreading mulch? If they can talk you into that kind of a system, it spreads money into their pockets.
But now, you are wiser.

Now you can ask them to take care of your property in a more natural way by shredding your tree's own leaves and leaving them.

Forgive me for mentioning my distaste for leaf-blowers. Not only do they spoil the peace in neighborhood, use precious oil resources, and can't be healthy for those poor workers to have to have them on their backs all day.

Here's another good idea: Composting the leaves

There may be leaves left over--too many to spread under the trees.

You can simply pile up the leaves in a corner of your property. There isn't too much more work to it than that.

Microorganisms do all the work. They decompose the leaves and by spring, the pile is a fraction of its original size. Then, you have rich, clean, wonderful compost to spread back under the trees or to spread under all plantings and even in a vegetable garden. A layer of compost will keep down the "weeds", too.

This is a compost bin display at a garden show... you don't have to get that fancy. Just pile 'em up!

What kind of mindset does this take?

Get out of the rut

People--and here I mean tree care professionals, landscapers as well as property owners and municipalities--have to be willing to get out of their rut.

"We've always done it that way" isn't going to work any more in the "new world" of climate changed environments.

Actually, we know of a municipality in New York State that will not do leaf pick-up from the curb anymore. They insist that homeowners shred or compost leaves on their own properties. Now that's forward thinking!

Re-evaluate what is beautiful

Many people think they like that "clean look" of all the leaves taken away and BARE SOIL because other people do it. Well, that's not a good reasoning.

Bare soil does not winter well and does not insulate the trees' roots.

Frankly, I can't imagine how anyone could think that bare soil in winter is beautiful. And then there is nothing to protect the soil from eroding because of rains in spring.

Be courageous, be a leader, make a difference

Someone has to set the example for neighbors and others who are still stuck in the rut. You can do it.

And if you don't want to...just show them this post and send them to me! Basia Alexander.

ChiefTreeProtector @ TreeProtector .org

Please click to go to other ways to help trees...
#10 Thing to Do to HELP Trees:  Clean Up and Help Each Other
#9 Thing to Do to HELP Trees: Leave Leaves
#8 Thing to Do to HELP Trees: Go Organic
#7 Thing to Do to HELP Trees: Transplant Properly
#6 Thing to Do to HELP Trees: Watering and Balance the Elements
#5 Thing to Do to HELP Trees:  Be Considerate.  Come from the Tree’s Point of View
#4 Thing to Do to HELP Trees:  Advocate to keep trees.  Think Wild.  Speak for Trees.  
#3 Thing to Do to HELP Trees:   Insist on Construction Care and Fencing
#2 Thing to Do to HELP Trees: Remove “Stuff”  and keep the weed whackers away.
# 1 Thing to Do to HELP Trees: Let them Breathe.  FILL KILLS.

Please check our sister website: PartnerWithNature.org.