ECO Tips—Tidying Leaves

The council in Eindhoven, Netherlands has taken the decision to stop raking leaves and using leaf blowers in their parks on grass and in flower beds, though paths will continue to be cleared. Since Victorian times, Europeans have become used to ‘over tidiness’ and biodiversity has taken a huge knock as a result. Leaves that do need to be tidied up can be left in a pile, suitable for overwintering hedgehogs etc. Additionally, other smaller wildlife, in the form of a myriad of often microscopic decomposers, flourishes. Meanwhile, leaves that remain on flowerbeds and lawns nourish the earth beneath; leaves act as a natural weed suppressant, retain moisture in times of drought and provide mulch for free. This reduces people’s perceived need for using herbicides. Related to eliminating herbicides, a local forestry consultant has noted that native woodlands on land that has not been sprayed with herbicide to clear vegetation prior to planting and then during the first five years of the new forest, thrive better. Trees show increased vigour and health and they grow more quickly. These are good lessons for us all.