Fall colors are beginning to show in Lower Michigan and beginning to peak above the bridge. Some leaves are already beginning to fall in my neck of the woods. Those autumn chores are approaching, but the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is advising Michiganders to hold off on some of the tasks. Certain plants and critters may benefit from a lack of weeding and raking.

One of the fall rituals that I’ve never cared for is the raking of leaves. Some folks may enjoy the exercise and the smell of burning leaves, but in my world, it’s a hassle. You spend hours clearing the yard, only to find a fresh load on the lawn the next day.

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Good News! There’s No Need To Rake!

The MDNR says that the raking and disposing of leaves isn’t all that necessary. In fact, you are passing up the opportunity of free mulch. Since my purchase of a riding lawnmower, I have mowed my leaves, leaving a mulch to protect my lawn over the winter months. When the snow disappears in the spring, there is no evidence of any leaves.

If mowing isn’t an option, rather than bagging or burning the leaves, rake them into a pile, the critters will love you. Turtles, toads, salamanders, moths and butterflies all spend winter tucked under leaves. Aaron Hiday, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy compost coordinator, suggests,

To tidy fallen leaves, rake them into a bin or pile to turn into nutrient-rich compost.

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A dead black-eyed susan can offer protection to valuable critters.
AgnosticPreachersKid via Wikimedia Commons

Hold Off On Trimming Dead Plants!

There is one fall task that is better to add to the spring to-do list. Those dead plant stems, in your flower garden, provide protection for perennial plants during the frigid winter months. Also, the hollow spaces in stems will give small critters and pollinators places to hibernate. It’s best to clip those stems when 50-degree days return in the spring. By following these tips, you may have a little less yardwork this fall, acquire some free compost, and provide your perennial plants and valuable critters with some protection this winter.

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