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Fall leaves could benefit your spring gardens

City arborist explains the benefits fall leaves bring to the environment.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Falling leaves are breathing new life into our natural habitat.

Autumn leaves do more than provide stunning views, as falling leaves continue to pile up, they are doing more than one may think. 

Here are three ways fall leaves benefit the environment:

Bug habitats

City of Charlotte Arborist Laurie Reid says leaving the leaves alone isn’t all bad.  

“Some moth, butterfly or caterpillars might spend the winter in that leaf litter in the protected area," Laurie Reid said. "Then in the spring we have a moth or butterfly coming out to lay eggs.” 

Reid says as the leaves slowly decay, they add nutrients back to the soil.  

“If you’ve lived in Mecklenburg County or Charlotte area for a while you know we got some clay soil, hard, and be dense.  Adding that organic matter will break that up, make it easier for the plants and better environment for the plants to grow," Reid said.  

She says leaves can reduce runoff and help maintain soil moisture.  

Composting at home

Create your own compost bin is another good way to dispose of leaf litter.   

“Add the brown leaves, you can add some grass clipping, a little native soil, the fruits, and vegetables you put in your indoor compost in there," Reid explained. "And then turn that over a couple of times during the winter. It adds that natural bacteria, fungus, and the earthworms inside the soil will break down all that stuff and then in the spring you’ll have good rich dark soil that has a lot of good organic matter."

And leaves, she says have a unique way of supporting wildlife.   

“The spring feeding birds, the robins, they are going after those earthworms that are in your yard.  Those blue birds are looking for insects in your yard to be able to feed their babies.  Not everyone loves spiders like I do, but they’ll be out there.  Ground dwelling spiders, walking around, looking for different insects, which is good because they reduce the mosquitos and cock roach population near your house,” Reid said.   

Municipal composting

And number three, the city of charlotte will collect your bag of leaves and convert them into compost when you leave them curbside.  

Contact KJ Jacobs at kjacobs3@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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