Do we need to rake the leaves into the woods?

Is it better to let leaves sit where they fall until spring, or rake them into the woods? Is burning a possibility?

Leaves are part of nature’s recycling system and should remain where they can break down and enrich the soil. Of course, that doesn’t mean they have to stay wherever the wind blows them. Raking leaves into the woods is an excellent idea, as there are lots of good nutrients in them to spread to the forest. You can also throw them into your garden or tuck them away in shrubby areas.

Burning leaves releases particulate matter that contributes to air pollution, and is a sad waste of leaves’ nutrients and insulation value. On the ground, they act as a winter blanket, protecting soil, young plants, seeds, insects, and small animals.

If earthworms are abundant in your soil, leaves will decompose quickly. Where there are few worms, leaves will be broken down by smaller organisms, but could last several years, as they do in deep woods where many years’ worth of leaves make the ground soft and springy.

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