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Why some experts say you shouldn't rake the leaves in your yard

Wildlife experts have a couple of suggestions on what to do instead.

WASHINGTON — Chillier temperatures also usher in what many consider to be leaf raking season, but some experts say you can put the rake and leaf blower away. 

Fallen leaves can actually benefit lawns and even wildlife, Andrew Tufts of Maine Audubon told News Center Maine

"The worst thing to do with leaves is bag them up and send them to a landfill," Tufts said. 

Many species make habitats out of leaves once they are on the ground, Tufts explained. Insects such as caterpillars use the leaves as cover during the winter. Salamanders and frogs also rely on leaves for protection. 

As for your lawn, a layer of leaves can insulate the ground and prevent it from drying out and freezing too fast. 

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According to the National Wildlife Federation, sending fallen leaves to a landfill in bags also hurts the environment and robs your garden of key nutrients.

“Leaves form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and fertilizes the soil as it breaks down. Why spend money on mulch and fertilizer when you can make your own? Turning leaves into solid waste is, well, wasteful,” said National Wildlife Federation Naturalist David Mizejewski.

Instead of sending fallen leaves to the landfill, the National Wildlife Federation suggests chopping them up with a mulching mower or moving the leaves to nearby garden beds to use as a mulch. If you still have too many leaves, the organization suggests checking if your community has any programs where they pick up leaves to make compost.  

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News Center Maine's Alex Haskell contributed to this report. 

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