For gardeners, leaves are the best. They form a natural mulch that suppresses weeds and also fertilize the soil. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Liam’s Lowdown: Let the leaves fall and the weeds grow

Societal expectations to rake and mow lawns are absurd

Temperatures are plummeting and leaves are falling. They always do.

Yet, before you rake consider this — perhaps it’s better to leave them be.

According to the National Wildlife Federation website, the largest nonprofit educator in the U.S., fallen leaves create their own mini-ecosystem.

Many species live in the leaf layer, including salamanders, chipmunks, frogs, turtles, toads, worms, millipedes and countless insects.

Butterflies and moths overwinter in leaf litter, both types of insects are critical food for birds in the spring when they are feeding their babies.

If you rake up and throw away the leaves, someone might go hungry.

In some places, even bats overwinter in the litter and might not survive the cold temperatures.

READ MORE: Victoria Ballet’s The Nutcracker coming to Revelstoke

For gardeners, leaves are the best. They form a natural mulch that suppresses weeds and also fertilize the soil.

Why spend money on mulch and fertilizer when you can make your own?

There’s the societal expectation to rake lawns, the absurd belief that a tidy lawn means the house and its owner are respectable. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

The same goes for mowing. Nowhere in nature will you find a tidy lawn.

While lawns perform some important ecological functions, like storing carbon and photosynthesis, they are biodiversity barren.

They tend to have only one or two species of grass, that are not even native to Revelstoke. It’s time we move beyond the lawn.

The director of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin once said in a New York Times article that “the era of the lawn in the west is over.”

According to the Nature Conservancy, roughly 60 per cent of yards in North America are lawns.

One of the best ways to encourage wildflowers, which will support a plethora of insects including bees, is to just leave your lawn to its own devices.

Yes, yes, that means the weeds will grow. But, do you know what a weed is? It’s a plant growing where it shouldn’t be, at least according to humans.

Shift your perspective slightly and as the Guardian newspaper once wrote, “…like a botanical version of the ugly duckling story, many of these so-called weeds will grow into lovely wildflowers.”

With neglect, your barren lawn can become a mini-meadow. Of course, gardens can’t substitute wild meadows or grasslands.

READ MORE: ‘I’ve got great survival instinct’: Big Eddy fire victim draws on past trauma for strength

While Revelstoke does not have grassland habitat, which is located in the prairies, wild grasslands are among the most endangered ecosystems in the world with less than 25 per cent remaining, meaning a higher proportion grassland habitat has been lost then the Brazilian Rainforest.

Canada’s grasslands support fishes, waterfowl and millions of birds as they stop to rest and feed during their migration to the boreal and Arctic.

Most of the grasslands have been lost to agriculture and urban sprawl.

From 1990 to 2015 in Saskatchewan alone, more than 3.3 million acres of native grassland were lost, which is roughly the size of The Bahamas.

According to Nature Canada, less than one per cent of native grasslands in Saskatchewan and Alberta are protected.

While the lawns of Revelstoke are a far cry from prairie grasslands, perhaps we don’t need any more artificial habitat.

Next spring, consider letting your lawn grow wild and free.


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jocelyn’s Jottings: When everyone is a friend of a friend

Chances are I know someone in Revelstoke who knows you, such is… Continue reading

Revelstoke city staff bring forward community centre reopening plans

Plans for the arena and pool will come later this summer

Slow melt at high elevations near Revelstoke this spring

At one location on Mt. Fidelity there is double the usual snowpack for early July

Security cameras catch break and enter suspects on July 1 in Revelstoke

RCMP are asking for help to identify the men and a vehicle

Canada’s deficit result of investing in Canadians: Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity

Minister Mona Fortier said the government is working on the next steps as the economy restarts

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Most Read