Image: Greenpeace USA

Leaves falling from trees in your garden should not be seen as trash to be collected and hauled away. Decomposing leaves are nature’s fertiliser, full of organic nutrients that strengthen soil, grass and gardens – for free.

Fallen leaves absorb rainwater and release moisture back into soil and plants as they decompose, helping to control rain water runoff.

Leaf litter also provides valuable habitat and forage sources for birds, insects, amphibians and other small wildlife. From bumblebees to caterpillars and butterfly cocoons, a whole bunch of critters rely on leaves to help hibernate (Greenpeace USA).

The leaves will contribute to healthy soil, which is composed of minerals, organic matter and organisms that break down organic matter.

“Think of your lawn as a miniature forest where everything is recycled, creating a diverse biological community that does not need inputs of fertiliser,” says Dr Emile DeVito, a biologist at the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

You don’t always have to clear everything away immediately. Nobody does it in the forest and it works wonderfully (Green is a Mission).