Garden Musings

Leave the Leaves

I was poking around in the garden and found this wooly bear caterpillar under a bunch of leaves. This discovery made me smile for a couple of reasons. First, because wooly bears remind me of my childhood. Second, because it underscores my belief that leaving the leaves helps the creatures and critters.

Wooly bear caterpillar in the leaves

Have you heard about the #LEAVETHELEAVES campaign? If not, you can read more about it here. I think it’s great that the Xerces Society and other organizations, like The National Wildlife Federation, are educating people about the importance of leaves for overwintering pollinators, reptiles, and other animals. Leaves also make great mulch, can be added to the compost pile, and can be turned into leaf mold with a little time and patience.

How do you feel about leaves? Do you leave them or obsessively rake all the leaves up?

My husband and I are generally either in the “leave them” camp or the “shred them to mulch the vegetable gardens over the winter” camp.


  1. Jules

    November 27, 2017 at 11:28 am

    I like to leave the leaves. When I lived in the city and had a small courtyard, I would get all kinds of birds visiting to find something to eat when I left the leaves. As soon as I swept them up, the birds disappeared and I regretted my tidying.

    1. Sarah | Horseradish & Honey

      November 27, 2017 at 6:29 pm

      I wasn’t really looking for the caterpillar but happy I found him (and recovered him). I’m always amazed what I find when I spend some time poking around in the leaves.

  2. Cary

    November 27, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    We mulch them as we – and by we I mean, Mike- do our last mows of the fall. In the beds we leave about half of the leaves as protection for the bitter and lake winds that blow.

    1. Cary

      November 27, 2017 at 10:19 pm

      Don’t edit this post please.

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