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Skip the backyard raking for the benefit of wildlife

A blue jay searches for scraps of food under the canopy of deciduous trees in blazing bloom on the Bay Walk Boardwalk in Summerside.
A blue jay searches for scraps of food under the canopy of deciduous trees in blazing bloom on the Bay Walk Boardwalk in Summerside. - Desiree Anstey/Journal Pioneer

Leave their leaves on the ground to support backyard biodiversity

Summerside - Deciduous trees paint the ground with brilliant sun-fire hues in fall, and Islanders are advised to skip their backyard raking and leave the coloured foliage.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), a not-for-profit conservation group, is encouraging property owners to leave their leaves on the ground and support backyard biodiversity.

According to Dan Kraus, the NCC senior conservation biologist, “Leaving the leaves” is a small act of backyard nature conservation that can make a big difference for native pollinators, birds, and other wildlife.

“Layers of leaves are an important habitat for many animals, such as toads, frogs and insects. They hibernate under the insulating layer of leaves,” he said.

Leaves also provide natural mulch that helps build and fertilize the soil as they decompose.

Kraus points out that many species hibernate in plant stalks or dead branches too, and by cleaning gardens completely, these wintering habitats for native wildlife are lost.

To help wildlife survive through winter, it is advised to not clean gardens till late spring.

“Fruit and seeds that remain on flowers and shrubs are a crucial food source that sustains many songbirds, such as goldfinches, jays and chickadees,” said Kraus.

“Overwintering insects in our yards also provide an important food source for birds. Providing winter habitats for our native birds and insects is just as important as providing food and shelter during the spring and summer.”

For those who don’t like the look of leaves on their lawn, raking the leaves under a bush or garden bed is an alternative.

To learn more about the Nature Conservancy of Canada, visit: www.natureconservancy.ca/en/where-we-work/prince-edward-island/

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